Is Your Big Picture Holding You Back?
I attended a webinar last month titled "Are Nonprofits Helping or Harming?" and was interested in its "big picture" viewpoint. While we try to focus almost exclusively on tips and news of interest related to fundraising here, I found a lot of the big-picture points important. I mean, how can you fundraise successfully if your organization isn't achieving the objectives of its mission? The advice shared in the webinar, which I detail here, might reveal some big-picture things your organization can work on to help it better achieve its mission (and make your job of raising funds easier).
"It is the burden of every nonprofit organization to demonstrate that they are doing good," said the webinar's presenter, David Hunter, founder and managing partner of Hunter Consulting LLC. Determining whether your organization is helping or harming begins with defining its strategic performance management, i.e., the degree to which an organization is able to create social value and measurable change.
Performance management requires everyone in an organization to be results-driven and a top-to-bottom commitment to pursuing knowledge about what the organization's results are.
Hunter said outcomes consist of changes that are measurable, enduring, linked directly and plausibly to intentional efforts, and the results for which all staff are held accountable.
He said many nonprofits do a poor job of measuring outcomes for four reasons:
- Funders rarely support the full cost of running programs, let alone tracking outcomes.
- It is much easier to focus on what you do than on results.
- Social services often are conceived of so broadly that measuring outcomes may be dismissed as "narrowly reductionistic."
- The pressure and challenges of day-to-day work don't allow time to devote to tough, analytical thinking.
Hunter asked attendees to consider the unlikely goals offered by programs that aim to get people off of welfare and into jobs and then don't provide job-based coaching and support even though it's known that job retention is the biggest challenge faced by the people they serve. Or foster care programs that stop supporting kids when they "age out" of the system at age 18 or 21, exactly the time when they need intensive support.