How we view the results generated by health and social service agencies may come from whether we look at the glass as being half-full or half-empty. Similar to our daily lives, we often don't take notice of how well a job is being done until the persons doing it aren't there anymore. Being able to tangibly show results is the latest development facing charities, and it's a practice that's here to stay.
Nonprofit agencies are in an age where supporters want to see results because they want to know their investment is making a difference. Donors, funders, volunteers, and the media are increasingly using benchmarks typically found in the business world to measure the performance of charities-asking these organizations to quantify missions, programs, and goals. Of course the buzzword for all of this is "organizational effectiveness," and it's a concept defining how charities are taking a business-like approach to showing their bottom line of helping others.
So are nonprofit organizations no longer immeasurable? In recent years, this topic has received increased attention in nonprofit research circles. Providing assessable results has progressively become more important because many believe "you can't deliver what you don't measure." Whether it's a social service agency delivering services to a client or it's the same agency delivering program outcomes to its donors, there's a need to foster and maintain public trust. The public will continue to apply pressure on charities to demonstrate how they're impacting the issues facing their communities.
This means nonprofits can't afford to not find ways to quantify results. It comes down to making a heart and mind connection with investors-the individuals, corporations, and foundations who support the organization's mission. Measuring performance provides fundamental information about the health of the organization. While it's critical to keep a human touch to these communications, it's equally important to show effectiveness through performance and outcomes because that's where the future security of the organization lies.
Results you can see ultimately go beyond glossy photos in an annual report and numbers displayed in charts and graphs. In the day-to-day operations of our health and human service organizations, the results they see are the children nurtured, the families strengthened, the individuals building self-reliance, and the community becoming a healthy and safe place to live. The results are there to be shared, and collectively, we just need to give them a voice. IBI