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Measuring Our Impact

David Burke

David Burke, the Director of Field Operations, graduated from the University of Iowa where he majored in business, bicycle maintenance, and beer snobbery. He served just under 5 years in the Marine Corps as a logistics officer and he deployed to Iraq with RCT-8 and to Afghanistan with the 2d Marine Division. David finished active service as a Captain in Quantico, VA, supporting the M1A1 Tank and M88 Recovery Vehicle. After a short stint in consulting, David and his wife, Amanda, traveled the US logging 1000’s of miles on the road and 100’s with a backpack.

Team Rubicon is putting significant effort into communicating return on investment to center on our view that we really concentrate on increasing the value of the donated dollar – investment becomes multiplied return. As a unique disaster response organization that utilizes the skills of our returning veterans, we not only serve communities affected by disaster, but we also impact the veterans and civilian members who serve them. So how do we measure that?

2014_08_04_HumbleTrooper_JACKSON_032_web Typically, nonprofit organizations are measured according to inputs and expenses rather than outcomes and impact (Recommended viewing: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong). We’re not suggesting nonprofits abandon their reporting according to programmatic, fundraising, and overhead expenses (all inputs) without a defensible, tested alternative to report outcomes. We are exploring how to tell you, our supporters, how your donations unlock impact on the community and our members. We believe that if you invest in our mission, we are obligated to let you know the return your dollar generates. We think this is best accomplished by quantifying impact.

Here’s one year-long effort we’ve completed at Team Rubicon to simply state the impact of our core mission – volunteer disaster relief. This is just a start, and it may be weak in areas, but I’ll address those, too. 

Step 1 – Capture all the inputs necessary for Team Rubicon to execute disaster relief operations. This includes:

  • Badass volunteer members and staff
  • Awesome partners
  • Cash
  • Donated resources (other than cash)

Step 2 – Assign a value to our inputs. For this exercise, we’ll use the standard volunteer rate and the command and general staff rate to measure members’ service during operations. 

Step 3 – Design a ratio that provides a baseline we can track consistently over time.

Impact_Infographic_blog-version_v2This is a simple ROI for the community served and a clean way to explain the impact of all those volunteer hours against the expenses to conduct the operation. What are we doing to improve?

  • Making continued investments to technology systems to increase the accuracy of measurement
  • Investing in scale – more members across the country will drive this ratio up
  • Investing in training – tactical proficiency will make every hour count even more


From a for-profit mindset, outcomes are projected profit and clearly justify significant early investments in programs, systems, and products. Measuring outcomes makes critical investment in systems and infrastructure necessary to scale palatable to our members, donors, and the general public – en route to a ready, trained, equipped Team Rubicon in every community across the country, these investments are critical.

This is the first of many outcome measurements we’ll be tackling in the years to come, and we will continue to search out new ways to measure our outcomes, improve everything we’re doing, and ultimately help more people. 

View Team Rubicon’s financials or learn more about how your donations support communities affected by disasters and those who serve them.