How do you measure the impact of an organization? You might start by looking at metrics that are easily quantifiable: membership numbers, how many events the organization hosts, or its number of hits on social media. But that wouldn’t capture the whole picture. To truly know how much an organization has accomplished, you have to talk to those it has affected about how it has changed them for the better.
At NeW’s 17th anniversary celebration, the impact NeW has made was clear. Outside on the Jack and Nancy Weiss Family Terrace of the Heritage Foundation, lined with pink balloons and brimming with NeW-branded cupcakes, I had the pleasure of talking with a range of young women. Some had gone to college in DC and been here for years, and many more had just moved across the country, looking for a group of women who could help make the city feel like home.
For those of us who have been in DC for a while, NeW is a place to catch up with old friends, be introduced to new ones, and bond over our time in the city. We swap professional stories in between bonding over how we both know so-and-so and remark on how we should all get together for coffee. We share job tips and professional advice, but more importantly we strengthen existing friendships.
For those newer to the city, friendships begin by bonding over the often-shared experience of facing isolation and loneliness as a conservative on campus. The way most women say they got through it? NeW. Time and time again, the organization provides a home-away-from-home for young women just starting their college journeys who feel isolated because of their beliefs. When some of those women end up moving to DC, they are met with a familiar warm welcome from the women in the NeW network — and the bonus of getting connected with those who already know the ropes of our nation’s capital.
These relationships are important not just because they help young conservative women navigate their college experiences and become comfortable with who they are, or because the NeW network helps women get jobs and navigate professional life in the city. They’re important because, as the guest speaker of the evening Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) put it, conservative women are needed in the fight to make our country freer. The congresswoman was introduced by her communications director Adeline Sandridge, who is an alumna of NeW at the University of Virginia.
The congresswomen emphasized that women are naturally inclined to help those around them. We are strong, like Cammack’s mother, who was told that she should not have her child because of a potentially dangerous pregnancy. She defied her doctors, had her child, and raised her while a single mother and business owner.
Women are also willing to work hard, like how Cammack moved across the country for her first campaign job. She was just out of college, worked odd jobs in the off hours to support herself, and helped her candidate upset a long-standing incumbent. Women are often action-oriented, like those women who helped evacuate vulnerable citizens from Afghanistan when the president couldn’t.
So how do you measure the impact of NeW? You could look at the numbers and how it has helped thousands of women over its 17 years. You could also look at the impact it has on its members and how they find courage and make lasting friendships because of the organization. But perhaps the best way to measure the impact of NeW is to look to the future: how the women will take what they learned from NeW to accomplish the great things just like Cammack said.
And that is something to celebrate.
This blog post was written by Bri Mirabile, NeW Research Fellow.