Nonprofit: Moving toward performance
Nonprofits have a tough job—they are continuously given the task of doing more with less. And those who provide funding to nonprofits, both public and private donors, want to see a return on their investment. But how can nonprofits prove to donors that their funds are being put to good use, and that money isn’t just being invested willy-nilly, but that there’s actual progress being made? Forget things like financial statements and overhead metrics; donors want the focus to be on outcomes.It is estimated that nonprofits choosing not to articulate performance outcomes will begin to lose funding in as little as 12 to 18 months, when compared to those which have made the transition to performance management. For more information on what your nonprofit can do to communicate its progress and outcomes to donors, keep reading.Communicating outcomes
Are you looking for ways to convey how your nonprofit turns its well-deserved funding into positive transformation for your community? Here’s how:

  • Don’t go it alone: Some of the most successful outcomes have been achieved through coordinated efforts and partnerships. Lofty goals often require multiple grant makers, a collaboration of nonprofits and other organizations working together toward a common purpose. Show donors that, through working together, you can accomplish more. Put together a donor packet that includes an outline of your goals, how you plan to achieve them and how you will quantify your outcome. Organize your materials with a professional-looking clipboard imprinted with the logos of each organization working toward your achievement. Include the message “A great team can accomplish anything.”
  • Shine in the spotlight: Often, the great work that nonprofits do is done behind the scenes and little is done to give a shout-out for their great achievements. Phil Buchanan, president of The Center for Effective Philanthropy, speculates that, “perhaps some foundations do not communicate about their contributions in part because they know that their work requires many organizations to collaborate—and therefore worry about drawing undue attention to themselves.” But, as Barbara Kellerman from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government points out, every foundation and major nonprofit has to have a strong brand identity and reputation as a leader. So get on centre stage, and let the world know all you are achieving. Have you reached an insurmountable goal or made an impossible task possible? Imprint your outcome on promotional items, such as Rock Star Highlighters and confetti cups, that can be handed out at fundraisers, donor appreciation celebrations and awareness events. This is one instance where shameless self-promotion is totally acceptable.
  • Scale back on low performers: It seems obvious, doesn’t it? Figuring out what works for your particular organization and then investing the bulk of your resources toward that is a surefire way to ensure that every dollar counts. This means nonprofits have to have a good understanding of how their many programs and initiatives are performing relative to one another. The ones that aren’t performing well should be scaled back or eliminated altogether. Then, focus on communicating the sizable influence your organization is having on a societal problem, not just the size of the problem you’re trying to fix. Tell about your star performing initiatives by imprinting outcomes on promotional items. A message, such as “We’ve rescued more than 100 dogs” imprinted on Dog Collars, or House Keep-it Clips sporting the phrase “We’ve put a roof over the heads of 250 area families,” shows progress and makes an impression.

Remember, it’s not enough to simply state the size of the problem your nonprofit is aiming to solve. To stay in the game and compete for the funding of today’s donors, you need to show progress—and progress equates to outcomes.

Edgington, Nell. “5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2014.” Social Velocity 5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2014 Comments. N.p., 17 Dec. 2013. Web. Retrieved 21 Apr. 2014.

Edgington, Nell. “Starting a Movement Toward Higher Performing Nonprofits.” Social Velocity Starting a Movement Toward Higher Performing Nonprofits Comments. N.p., 06 Dec. 2013. Web. Retrieved 21 Apr. 2014.

Buchanan, Phil. “Unlike For-Profits, Nonprofits Succeed by Sharing the Work and the Glory.” The Chronicle of Philanthropy. N.p., 24 Feb. 2014. Web. Retrieved 21 Apr. 2014.

Fritz, Joanne. “How Nonprofits Can Measure Outcomes and Why They Should.” About.com Nonprofit Charitable Orgs. N.p., n.d. Web. Retrieved 21 Apr. 2014.

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