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Optimising Feeding programs with Impact Dashboards

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, the ability to make informed decisions based on data is critical for organisations striving to create meaningful social impact. With the rise of data-driven approaches, dashboards have emerged as indispensable tools, reshaping how we analyze and present essential information in a visually compelling manner.

Dashboards serve as visual hubs, simplifying intricate datasets into actionable insights at a glance. By integrating data from a variety of sources into a cohesive platform, dashboards empower users to uncover patterns, track essential metrics, and assess performance indicators critical to their goals.


Client-Centric Implementation: Investing in 'Meals'

Imagine a scenario where a fund disperses financial support to a multitude of organisations committed to supplying vital meals to children in schools and residences. Their goals range from monitoring program metrics for each organisation to presenting a visual depiction of impact on a map.

Custom charts, leveraging automated calculations. 

In response to these multifaceted objectives, impact reporting dashboards should offer certain capabilities:

  • Customized Reporting: Monthly reports synchronized with funding cycles provide in-depth analysis on metrics like the number of children fed, meals served, and how funding is utilized, ensuring transparency and adherence to regulations.
  • Automated Calculations: Utilizing automated calculations for real-time target tracking empowers proactive decision-making and timely interventions, particularly in the context of overseeing 5 million meals. The crucial question arises: what is the actual cost of an average meal amidst the diverse nutritional strategies provided by implementation partners? Is it a mere $1 or a more substantial $12.5?
  • Impact Visualisation: With intuitive visuals, dashboards can present validated, integrated data, offering a comprehensive perspective on program effectiveness across multiple aspects.
Achieving Operational Excellence

The implementation of impact reporting dashboards should yield tangible outcomes:

  • Real-time Monitoring: Stakeholders are equipped with real-time data, empowering them to closely monitor progress and swiftly make well-informed decisions. Real-time monitoring for M&E (Monitoring and Evaluation) doesn't rely on third-party studies or annual assessments. Our clients have found success through monthly reports, as weekly updates can be too detailed given the resources needed for such in-depth analysis.
  • Streamlined Data Flows: Centralizing data from various sources within dashboards not only eliminates the necessity for manual aggregation, saving valuable time and resources, but also reduces the risk of human error and inherent bias stemming from specialized domain knowledge.
  • Enhanced Compliance: Strong audit trails, meticulous data accuracy checks, and stringent access controls guarantee compliance with regulatory standards and internal governance protocols. The system includes moderation and approval features for historical data that cannot be altered.
Data Sample: Funding Tranches by key Impact Indicators for Meal/Feeding support
Reporting Quarter Children Fed Meals Provided Funding Utilised
Q1 1,890 15,667,646 78,345,453
Q2 164 1,416,424 2,933,310
Q3 208 663,315 232,098.69
Q4 2,500 3,185,836 10,227,397.83
Table: An annual table serves as the foundational building block for setting objectives and measuring progress. 
It is essential to gather and accurately count validated source data to populate this table effectively.



Data Sample: Source Reports, consistent format

Monthly reporting is implemented for all funded organisations based on their funding cycles to deliver comprehensive data insights.


Amount spent ($)

Children (Children)

Meals (Meals)

Implementation Partner 1 (Q1)




Implementation Partner 2 (Q2)








Table: each cell in the previous Table is a sum of a set of tables like this one.



Why data structure matters when it comes to impact reporting

Visual representations such as charts and dashboards rely on intricately interconnected database tables to transform raw data into meaningful visuals. While creating a basic chart may seem straightforward, delving into cross-sectional data analysis with multiple parameters demands a more sophisticated and robust solution.

Envision the potential of the aforementioned reporting format to automatically generate diverse views, offering a dynamic and insightful perspective on the data at hand.

Explore the map view to visualize our meal distribution, feeding partners, and the geographical locations of children being served. With the dashboard's capability to segment data across 10 different criteria, including GPS coordinates, entity types, program classifications, and progress towards objectives, tailored visualisations cater to the diverse needs of stakeholders.

Untitled design

Supported entity type and nutritional program type

Specialists emphasize the importance of not directly comparing two types of programs or the nutritional content of meals on a one-to-one basis. While this caution is valid, funders often lack the resources or interest in reporting such detailed information. Our clients fund services that can be simplified into a single figure by the system. Misalignments with this figure can highlight discrepancies in strategies among implementation partners, allowing clients to make informed decisions based on these insights.


TSC - Graph #1 (2)

SUM, per Quarter, by entity type: This quarterly view displays monthly reporting data grouped by intervention type, with targets tracked simultaneously for each entity type, representing the sum of key indicators. This chart is generated automatically from approximately 600 individual reports.


Type of meal? Does it matter?

Specialists often have inquiries regarding the nutritional composition and variety of meals, which can impact cost efficiency and the fundamental assumptions concerning children's daily meal requirements, including calorie counts. Each program may have its own unique strategy, distinct from that of the client. The client's aim is to offer a broad perspective to organisations, allowing them to explore data at a higher level and potentially uncover insights such as the comparative costs of different meals and the outcomes achievable within their existing programs. 


The question arises: What is the optimal balance between accuracy and cost when determining the right mix of data collection methods?


Performance on sensitive indicators?

Impact indicators encompass a wide range of metrics, spanning from the number of children served to meals provided, financial investments, and even cost-per-child or cost-per-meal ratios. However, accurately counting these indicators can be challenging for many organisations, often leading to issues of double counting.

In addressing this challenge, we emphasize the importance of clarity and precision in defining the indicators being measured. It is imperative that each indicator is accompanied by a clear description, specifying the time period over which it has been measured. This ensures clarity in interpretation and minimizes the risk of double counting.

For example, when tallying the number of unique children served, it is crucial to define the time-frame for which this count is applicable, whether it be monthly, quarterly, or annually. Likewise, when tracking financial investments or calculating cost-per-child metrics, providing a clear time-frame and scope for the calculation helps maintain accuracy and consistency. Read more here.

By offering transparent descriptions and adhering to defined time frames, organisations can ensure reliable reporting and mitigate inaccuracies caused by double counting. This approach enables stakeholders to make well-informed decisions based on dependable data, ultimately maximizing the effectiveness and impact of their initiatives.


'Children' with a target:  In the chart above, the average number of children served per organisation may give the impression that many organisations are counting the same children multiple times, as they account for both meals and individual children over a given period, such as a month. For instance, in the case where the target is set at 22,325.50 children, and the actual count is significantly lower, say 1000 children, this would indicate a substantial under-performance of 95.1%.

Further analysis reveals that only 22% of organisations have submitted their reports at the current time. However, once all reports are submitted and approved, the data will be complete and accurate. At that point, the reported number of children served will be finalized and cannot be changed.


Cross-check for Authenticity and Accuracy of reported data

The application of automated calculations enables the client to keep track of targets that need to be adhered to by the organisation. 


Amount spent ($)

Overhead costs ($)

Overhead costs smart check (%)

Implementation Partner 1




Implementation Partner 2








Table: by asking one additional indicator automatic calculations such as crosschecks become insightful.

Overhead costs smart check (%). If the assumption is that our policy dictates that only 10% of funds can be allocated to overheads where does this land our current baseline and our monthly performance?

Target = 10%

Now, our average, based on real-time data is:




Real-time baseline = 9%

In such a case we would utilize a mean value of nine as a benchmark. We would then list partners tracking above 10 on a monthly basis, as well as those tracking below 9 monthly. This information provides evidence to identify areas for improvement and efficiencies, ensuring that we achieve greater impact per dollar spent.

Transforming Data into Impact

Ultimately, a powerful impact dashboard acts as a catalyst for donors to fully comprehend the breadth of their social influence. By providing actionable insights, streamlining operations, and ensuring adherence to regulations, our social impact dashboard software and services empower organisations to maximize their contributions to society. Through cutting-edge data structures, we equip our clients to precisely gauge, skillfully manage, and significantly magnify their impact within communities and beyond.

At The Social Collective, we remain committed to leveraging innovative solutions to amplify the impact of our clients' initiatives.