The Volume, Issue 12: Goodnight Moon

60 Decibels
3 min readSep 21, 2020

The Volume is our monthly collection of our own data and insights, plus the best things we’re reading elsewhere. We hope you enjoy and tune in to get next month’s issue :)

> Dashboard alert: How Kenyan farmers are weathering the COVID-19 storm
We’ve been collecting data on the impact of COVID-19 on agriculture supply chains and smallholder farmers. In June and July, we listened to 1,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya to understand their lived experience during the pandemic and the support they need. Nearly 90% of Kenyan farmers said their financial situation has worsened, and 90% of farmers have reduced the number of people hired to work on their farms. With 75% of Kenya’s population relying on agriculture for employment, this is likely to have significant long-term effects. Read our latest Press Release on why this matters, and be sure to check out our dashboard for more insights. Our latest round of 500 interviews is launching this Thursday.

> #accountability?
A year ago, 200 corporations, including Amazon, Apple, Blackrock, BP, Chevron, Dow, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase, Pfizer, and Walmart signed the Business Roundtable pledge to consider the well-being of their stakeholders (workers and communities) alongside returns to shareholders. So, did this group behave differently in the face of COVID-19 and lay off fewer workers? According to Wharton Professor Tyler Wry, they didn’t. In fact, signatories of the pledge paid out 20% more of their capital to shareholders and they were 20 percent more likely to announce layoffs or furloughs than non-signers. That’s bad news for voluntary accountability.

> How do you stack up?
Speaking of accountability, the Holy Grail of impact measurement is a set of standardized, comparable impact outcomes. As a sector we’ve been talking about these for decades, yet they’ve remained elusive…until now! We just launched our 60dB Impact Performance Benchmarks, spotlighting off-grid energy from data collected up to Q3 2020. If you are an entrepreneur, these benchmarks will help you understand your impact performance compared to similar companies (a little healthy competition never hurt!). If you are an investor, they serve as a useful framework for what to measure. So, how do you stack up? (Pssst: more sectors coming soon).

> Dashboard alert: How off-grid energy users are weathering the COVID-19 storm
Since June, we’ve listened to more than 15,000 off-grid energy customers to learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on energy usage and to make sure energy poverty does not spread or worsen during the pandemic. Check out this case study with some of the headline findings written by our partner, The Rockefeller Foundation. We’ve found that off-grid energy customers are reporting increased usage of off-grid energy systems, satisfaction, loyalty to their energy provider, and the ability and willingness to make payments as normal. Most importantly, they are reporting increased quality of life due to the energy product. A huge thank you to the contributors that have helped make this work possible: The Rockefeller Foundation, GOGLA, DOEN Foundation, CDC Plus, SNV, Efficiency for Access, and CGAP.

> Is “feedback” going mainstream? We hope so!
We’re always on the lookout for changes that make philanthropy more accountable to beneficiaries and customers. Our co-founder, Sasha, has been part of a brain trust called the “Irritants” that launched the “How Do We Listen” campaign a year ago. One of the main focuses of the group has been to make feedback mainstream. A big step in that direction: the nonprofit ratings group Guidestar, just added a “feedback section” to their ratings. With more than 1.8 million nonprofits on the Guidestar platform, this could be big.

> From Sasha: Focus on the Flats
As we all enter the long-haul of COVID-19, with new lockdowns around the world and confusing starts to the school year, Sasha’s post, Focus on the Flats, reminds us of the importance of investing in “the easy bits” to build a strong foundation and the ability to snap back quickly.

> Just for fun

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60 Decibels

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