Nonprofit agencies must provide their supporters with results so they know their investment is making a difference. Donors, 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. The managers and leaders of nonprofit organizations constantly face new challenges related to growth, social issues, government funding and the need to serve more clients with less resources. The use of modern business practices are being put into action everyday by these organizations to manage resources, raise funds and market their goals and objectives to the community—both the public and the private sectors.
A nonprofit organization is a mission-based business. Fundraising efforts are not merely in place to provide money for the organization, but rather donors are purchasing services for others and this type of purchase makes it ever more important that nonprofit organizations provide measurable outcomes to their constituents.
Providing tangible results has progressively become more important to nonprofit organizations 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 demonstrating program outcomes to their donors, there is a need to foster and maintain public trust as the public continues to demand results that show their charities of choice are positively impacting the issues facing their communities.
This means nonprofits must make a heart and mind connection with investors, 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 is how the organization will continue to grow.
Nonprofit organizations can increase their effectiveness and turn their mission into one of power and impact by building the basic business principles of balance, innovation, leadership and communication into their management philosophy. By setting and requiring increasingly higher standards of practice, nonprofits can surround themselves with the supporters who will help them meet their public’s needs.
Results ultimately go beyond glossy photos in an annual report and numbers displayed in charts and graphs. In the daily operations of our health and human service organizations, the results are the children who are nurtured, the families that are 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 need to give them a voice. IBI