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5 Outcomes Questions Every Nonprofit Should Have An Answer To


The concept of “outcomes measurement” means different things to different people. Three of the most influential groups within the entire nonprofit sector and one of its largest foundations have a suggested framework for getting started.

Charting Impact” was introduced several years back and was endorsed and funded by Guidestar, Independent Sector, Wise Giving Alliance of the Better Business Bureau and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

I encourage you to explore the website at each of the above organizations if you have not done so yet. They are truly remarkable sources of valuable information for every type and size of nonprofit.

The essence of “Charting Impact” is the asking and perhaps more importantly the answering of the following five questions by the leadership of your nonprofit.

In the video below, Independent Sector’s former CEO Diana Aviv explains the value of doing so:

Five Key Questions

Each question provides the basis of pulling together the needed information of just how much impact your organization has as it strives to fulfill its stated mission. As you read each one below think of how powerful discussing and knowing the answers to each question can be for your organization and its mission!

Let’s briefly explore each one:

1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?

Simply stated this is your mission more fully defined. These are the outcomes it is trying make come to life with the most impact possible.

2. What are your strategies for making this happen?

This goes beyond the mission and outcomes to specify the specific game plans to make them happen. If the strategies are specific then there is an even better road map to success. The strategies must be closely aligned with the mission related goals.

3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?

Stated missions and detailed strategies are only a path to success if the organization has the people, processes, capital and time to make them come to life. Depending on the mission there may need to be other facets of your organization present to move toward the outcomes goals. Taking stock of your capabilities should be a key part of your overall strategic planning.

4. How will your organization know if it is making progress?

The hardest part defining any goal is making sure it easy to measure the results. Many organizations have wonderful missions and strategies, but no proper methods for measuring progress. Defining what and how to track progress is necessary to insure positive results. Without this, there is little chance of correcting flaws while in progress.

5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Having the proper methods or systems in place to measure and track on an ongoing basis should provide the answers to this question. Such a system should also make it easy to share with your team, your volunteers, your funders and your core mission recipients.

This “Charting Impact” project has certainly enabled nonprofit leaders and organizations to be more aware of what can and should be done. Only when the questions are answered fully and updated on an ongoing basis will outcomes be properly measure and impact achieved.

How many of you have added this section to your Guidestar profile, or incorporated them into your website or other marketing materials?

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