Portfolios aren’t just for designers: Create one to demonstrate your impact

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Photo credit: pashabo, Shutterstock

Photo credit: pashabo, Shutterstock

Traditionally, we think of portfolios for artists and designers. Actually, they’re a powerful way to communicate your message for anyone.

As impact professionals part of your job is to help people to understand the change you are making and what want to see in the world. An impact portfolio makes that easy. Use your impact portfolio as part of a grant proposal. Send it in with a job application. Show it to your boss or colleagues. Create one together to share with potential donors.

In short: Showcase your work. Tell your story. Have fun.

Here’s how to make your #impactportfolio.

Brainstorm your “prouds”

What have you accomplished that you are really proud of? What have other people thanked you for?

Brainstorm a list. Focus on what feels important to you. It could be big prouds, like “started a non-profit while I was still in College” or seemingly littler prouds like, “As a volunteer, taught an adult to read.” If you are already an expert, let that show too. Think back over specific time periods in your life. For example, try to list one item per year. We have a tendency to leave out impact we had a long time ago.

Project forward too. Imagine it is 5 or 10 years from now and you have succeeded beyond your wildest dreams. What impact would you have had? What group of people or cause would you have worked on? What scale would you have reached? How deep would the change be?

Get specific

Be as specific as you can for each of your prouds.

Quantify impact wherever you can. You can quantify to show scale. For example, including that you started a program that serves 20,000 annually. You can also quantify to show depth. For example, you may have focused on working with two local entrepreneurs and helped them increase their income by 70%. Quantification helps people understand impact but can be hard to connect with emotionally.

What helps people connect? Include stories, quotes and images to give a richer sense of the impact you’ve had. Remember the times when you were brought to tears or deeply moved. What were those stories? Include them.

One Acre Fund does a great job showing their impact with number and stories on an organizational level. They have a clear dashboard and then a set of stories from their farmers. We all have stories of where we’ve made a difference. What are yours?

Let the fun begin!

Get creative. Make your prouds (and future impact) visual. Use whatever medium you are most comfortable with.

If you are naturally artistic, you can draw. For the rest of us, there are amazing tech tools to make it easy. If you give a lot of presentations, you may want to make your portfolio using PowerPoint or KeyNote. You can use a free online presentation tool like prezi or an infographic creator like Piktochart.

A picture is worth, as we know, much more than a thousand words. Photography is another way to build your impact portfolio. Snap pictures of actions you take. Make a quick video telling a story or having those you work with tell theirs. Then share your photos, videos, and stories on a simple blog. The poverty crowdfunding site Benevolent uses these methods to have every donor understand the impact they are having on an individual’s life.

Check out GatherWell’s pinterest board for inspiration. Find a combination of video, infographics, stories and images from organizations and individuals. The impact can be small and cumulative. Take a look at litterati, where one couple started recording every piece of litter they pick up and then built  a community to do the same. Or the story of one life changed by clean water from Charity: Water. Here’s a picture of the impact one man had just by letting a tired stranger rest on him.

Photo credit: Litterati

Photo credit: Litterati

You don’t need fancy technology. Keep it simple. Make it beautiful. Include what really speaks to your heart. That’s what will speak to others.

Share!

Impact portfolios are powerful. They can remind you of what you’ve achieved.  Keep you focused on your goals. If you share them, they can inspire others and spark conversations. Most of all, they can increase your impact.

Possible scenarios:

  • What if a group of people got together and created a joint impact portfolio, then shared it to get more community support for their work?
  • What if you used a personal impact portfolio to make visceral your vision for colleagues or at a conference?

Keep your portfolio alive. Let it grow as you do. Use it to revisit past accomplishments and keep yourself motivated for the future. Use it right now to remind yourself of the amazing impact you have.

What’s in your impact portfolio? Get started now and share the link to your portfolio, ideas and questions in the comments below or on twitter with the hashtag #impactportfolio

We’ll share the best on GatherWell’s blog!

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About Author

Cynthia Jaggi is an entrepreneur and leadership expert for people who are looking to create massive impact. Through her writing and courses, she's here to shake up your approach to creating your most meaningful life and work - while making it all feel like fun. She was named a lean-startup ambassador for her work bringing a lean approach to social impact and her insights have been featured on Business Insider, Women 2.0 and Idealist Careers. Her passion is to shift the economy to a regenerative model that puts people and the planet in the center. To achieve this goal she works to build + grow social impact businesses and to empower professionals to create their most meaningful life and work. She is the Founder of GatherWell, the Think + Do tank for Practical Idealists and a Partner at Living Economy Advisors, increasing the flow of capital to the living economy. A bit of her fun? dancing, gardening and the occasional dip under a desert waterfall. Meet Cynthia and get ready to create a more meaningful career & life at cynthiajaggi.com

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