Companies, government agencies, and other organizations have always donated time, money, and resources to causes they believe in. But unlike business, calculating return on investment for those contributions isn’t always straightforward. That’s where Columbus startup SureImpact believes they can make a difference. The company created an online platform for government, nonprofit, and social enterprise organizations that tracks, measures, and communicates outcomes in what they call “impact management.”
“The reason companies in the social sector exist is to change lives and circumstances for the people they serve,” Founder and CEO Sheri Chaney Jones said. “So unlike a sales CRM or something like that, where all the metrics are geared toward taking a prospect to a closed deal, SureImpact is helping nonprofits and government agencies understand how investments create a social return on investment. Maybe it’s reducing homelessness or increasing income stability or making positive changes in the environment. It’s about the results that these social services are looking for with the investments they’re getting.”
Jones isn’t the only one who believes in that mission. Since launching in 2018, the company has gained more and more recognition and partners. In May, they announced an impressive $2 million seed funding round that will make for major expansion and improvements.
“It allows us to bring on much more tech talent,” Jones said. “This allows us to hire our own development team, which allows us to speed up the product roadmap for our customers. We’ve gathered a lot of feedback related to new feature development and things that will make our product even easier for our customers to use, so it’s really huge to have an internal team. In Ohio, we’ve really shown product-market fit, but we’re a new product and a new brand, so this will allow us to invest in marketing and sales efforts to go to other markets and share our innovative product.”
When she first started raising the funds, Jones knew she needed about $2 million. Some people told her to aim lower, but she knew it’s what she needed. Now, the company has beefed up their software, created new solutions for its clients, and is demonstrating its value more than ever before.
“Today, we have nonprofits who may have three or four funders using SureImpact as their reporting mechanism,” she said. “They’re seamlessly sharing their data with multiple funders in multiple ways, and they only have to use one platform. In some cases, they don’t even have to do anything additional to what they’ve already been doing, it’s just associating those pieces of data with the right funder. That’s one of the most significant changes that we’ve made.”
As they expand across the country, Jones and SureImpact are proud to call Columbus home. Jones is a central Ohio native who always wanted to keep the company in the Buckeye State. And in spite of some early suggestions that she should go to the coasts, she never seriously considered launching it anywhere else. In Columbus, she worked with Rev1 Ventures, a partner of Ohio Third Frontier, and a variety of other organizations, attracting strong Ohio talent and finding the resources she needed to grow SureImpact.
“Rev1 has been fantastic, and we’ve been involved with them since we were just an idea,” she said. “I’m a big believer in taking advantage of any program you can that will help you reduce costs and scale and grow your business, and Rev1 has had a lot of different offerings that have been beneficial for us. I have no plans to leave the city. It’s a great place to live and work and it’s an extremely collaborative ecosystem.”
SureImpact isn’t just growing financially. The company added well-known nonprofit tech entrepreneur Jay Love to its board, and now works with more than 350 organizations. They also landed a partnership with the City of Columbus on a “groundbreaking initiative” that will connect nonprofit human service organizations with resources that strengthen their capacity, improve their reporting, and demonstrate how they’re moving the needle on nine areas of emphasis from the city.
“We’re hoping to totally change the way the sector operates,” Jones said. “What was once impossible, because of technology and because of SureImpact, is now possible for a nonprofit. When we think about data-driven, impact-centric work, prior to SureImpact that took a lot of resources and capital and talent. Now, we’ve automated the hard things and it’s now possible. I’m idealistic and passionate about this, but I get really excited when I think about a world where people who want to do good can now make data-driven decisions about what works and is effective in creating that good.”