Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Information. Insight. Impact.

That tagline graces the Wilder Research entryway and greets us and our guests. We try to live up to it, year in, year out, including during 2017.

Production of information never constitutes an end in and of itself. Instead, information serves as a tool, enabling us to create the end we truly seek: positive impacts on the lives of individuals, families, and communities. We accomplish that by enhancing insight that shapes programs, policies, funding, and actions of organizations working for the common good.

What have we accomplished during this past year, as we have worked on over 200 projects in partnership with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and community groups? With so many projects, and 90+ staff working diligently, I can only offer a taste of our work. It has included research to: 
  • Reduce health disparities, improve health, and promote health equity
  • Address gaps in the delivery of services to people in need
  • Support the care of families and aging adults
  • Benefit youth, especially those whom society has historically excluded
  • Strengthen supports for those struggling in school
  • Enable the imprisoned and their families to build new lives
  • Prevent victimization and exploitation
  • Improve the effectiveness of neighborhood groups
  • Support large scale initiatives by major foundations addressing global challenges

Our projects have involved program evaluation studies, community demographic analyses, major surveys, cost-benefit analyses, and other activities. Our work has focused locally, nationally, and internationally. We share a lot – making information and insight available free of charge, to increase the impact of others. We feel good that every completed piece of work, every presentation contributes to taking a step forward; each step forward helps to move the dial to improve the quality of people’s lives.

However, as a nonprofit organization ourselves, we confront, along with our fellow nonprofit organizations, a spiritual angst – perhaps more salient at this time of year: We love our work, but much of it we wish we had no need to do. Wouldn’t I be happier if I could work myself out of a job? Wouldn’t I prefer that the research we do at Wilder Research became mostly unnecessary because we had solved the major problems of the world?

The answer is yes.

Thank you to our partners during 2017 – the innovators, the champions, the bold thinkers and the nose-to-the-grindstone, persistent, hard workers – those of you who put your talents to use in making the world a better place. We take pride in our collaborative accomplishments. It might seem odd to “celebrate” those accomplishments, because the work we do often has its genesis in the problems and challenges that communities and organizations face. The happiness of celebration will arrive if and when we no longer confront those issues. In the meanwhile, we share with you, our colleagues and supporters, the passion to make life better for people everywhere.

In that spirit, I hope you find peace and fulfillment as this year concludes, and I wish you the best for the New Year.