Everyone can visualize the ripples created when a stone is thrown into a lake or a rain drop falls into a puddle. Alas, it’s not nearly as easy to visualize the impact of our charitable investments. 

Innové Studios utilizes a technique called Ripple Effect Mapping to visualize our impact. Pioneered at the University of Minnesota, Ripple Effect Mapping is a tool that measures and quantifies the impact of our missional efforts, both the impact that is easy to see, as well as the social good that might not be easily apparent. 

Let me share an example. Fair Anita was a 2015 Innové winner. Coaching and the financial investment from the congregation were two stones thrown into the pond that catalyzed Fair Anita to scale quickly, resulting in 8,000 women around the world now being employed at a fair wage. 

That’s one heck of a ripple!

But think also of the positive impact that the women–who at first relied on charity, yet are now gainfully employed–have on the local economies of Ethiopia, Peru, and Malaysia, to name a few. That’s quite a ripple as well!

Then think of the change in mindset as those 8,000 women went from feelings of insecurity, shame, and loneliness to a feeling of empowerment, confidence, and hope as a result as being seen as gifted children of God. Perhaps that’s the biggest ripple of all! 

But what about the ripples in the congregation that coached and resourced Fair Anita? Those are certainly the too-oft-overlooked success of the model. That congregants now see their Monday through Friday vocation as a meaningful connection with their Sunday faith? A ripple. 

Obviously, each winning social venture has their own ripples of impact. And to map them out also helps to identify both intentional and unintentional consequences (like those discussed in books like When Helping Hurts and Toxic Charity), which helps make our mission investment even more impactful and healthy longterm.

As a result of a strategic, thoughtful process of missional investment that is designed for impact, there have been lots of new ripples generated by Innové Studios in 2018 as we replicate the model. First Presbyterian Church in Houston launched five new ventures that are making ripples within their congregation and the city of Houston, as well as in places around the world like Syria. 

Ripples have formed in First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta in 2018 as well, as they are currently coaching 22 ventures and will announce their winning ventures in late February 2019. I can’t wait to see the ripples those make.