How do we measure success in 2019?



Come January, it seems everyone is a futurist. Predictions and prognostications fill headlines, begging for clicks, retweets and “shares.”

As a former private sector business leader, I understand the desire to seek information that can help anticipate and identify opportunities. Review of market trends, historical customer buying patterns and other reliable data guideposts always informed decisions we made during my tenure with Hallmark Cards, J.C. Penney and banking before that. That background is still incredibly important in our work at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Careful management of the funds entrusted to our foundation calls for expertise in asset management and charitable investment strategies. We are here to help create the community we all want to live in, and that requires creativity, which is notoriously difficult to measure.

Our foundation does use metrics to track outcomes. These measurements aid in demonstrating improvements in student reading levels, adult education progress and overall social and economic equity advances made through the causes and programs supported by our donors. Establishing thoughtful systems to better define the indicators of success in all our work is constantly developing. With our work taking place in the always “gray” area of human beings, though, we have to rely on more nuanced measures and qualitative results. That is when looking back at what got us to where we are can be most helpful.  

One of the stalwart theories on human behavior change is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, first proposed more than 75 years ago. Generally speaking, this model breaks our human needs into five categories: physiological (food, water, shelter); safety (economic, health); belonging and love (friendship, community and religious groups); esteem (mastering skills, personal independence); and self-actualization (living by a set of values, pursuing goals and altruistic tendencies).

Originally, Maslow proposed each step needed to be completed before advancing to the next level in human development. Today, it is recognized that growth between the categories is continuous and always evolving. We are all a work in progress. I see these loops of evolution daily through the causes our foundation and our donors are connected with at each level Maslow identified: homelessness, disease research, developing personal connections, building social capital, cultural pursuits and those who give back to help others are just a few examples.

So how do I see measurements of success unfolding for the year ahead when looking at things through the creative lens of humanity’s evolution? The answer comes down to a single number: One.

Success measurements are personal. Our community foundation is only as successful as each individual life of those who we work with. That is because each of us—both donor and receiver—are part of our cause of creating community. We all have the ability to be the one to make a change. We are the givers, doers, collaborators and planners who are designing the spaces where we want to live day in and day out. There are infinite opportunities ahead of us. That is always true. This is why I encourage all of us to make each day in 2019 one we are proud of what we each did to make our community better and stronger! Let’s check back in on December 31, 2019 and see how we did.

Roxie Jerde is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.  

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