The Importance of a Backbone Organization

Posted on 12-10-2018

Good Measure is a collaborative of philanthropic organizations who work together with their grantees to creatively and strategically use data to make a bigger difference in the lives of more people. Like most effective collaboratives, we need a strong backbone organization to keep the work moving forward in a structured way.


Our backbone organization is Mission Capital, an organization that provides tools and guidance to mission-driven organizations, businesses, and philanthropists to tackle complex issues and create lasting social change. There are two essential pieces to Mission Capital’s work that ensures Good Measure remains effective and impactful.


  1. Mission Capital encourages good governance and leadership: Part of Mission Capital’s day job is to advise nonprofit organizations on how to manage their businesses in the most effective way by having the right structures and leadership in place. Mission Capital regularly provides nonprofits with highly effective leadership curriculum, so it is extremely adept in managing and coaching the Good Measure group. Mission Capital helps foster collaborative leadership across all members of the steering committee.


  1. The backbone of a collaborative group keeps the focus clear for all members. Mission Capital helped craft and still manages the group’s clarity of purpose. Solving complex problems isn’t easy, as we all know, and it’s even more difficult to keep an impactful focus. Mission Capital facilitated the process of defining Good Measure’s purpose and goals to get there. And as Good Measure’s purpose continues to evolve over time, Mission Capital helps us all stay true to the prevailing core of our partnership.


For any backbone organization to be successful, it’s important that the collaborative is committed to a vision at the very start. For Good Measure, funders committed to the work with time and money up front. The idea for Good Measure came about in 2015, when founding members met informally to explore how they could pool resources, commit staff time, and offer a unified voice concerning the importance of using data and evaluation for learning and continuous improvement.  Each funder made a financial contribution to the work and committed to meet monthly to move the work of Good Measure forward.


Members of Good Measure know how much nonprofit service providers care about improving client and community outcomes. However, given the often-overwhelming demand for services and limited resources, many organizations struggle to effectively collect, access and most importantly, utilize their data.  Good Measure is honored to support the work of our nonprofit service providers and in working hand-in-hand with them to help make Central Texas a better place for all.  And we recognize that the future of Good Measure’s work depends on a clear vision and ongoing commitment to improving data use in our community, and Mission Capital’s continued support of the collaborative as a whole.