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What is Your Nonprofit's 'Return on Mission?'

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The Nonprofit Buyer

A nice present arrived in the mail last week from a longtime friend of mine. It was a copy of his recently published book “The Nonprofit Buyer.”

Having known Andrew Urban as not only a friend but as a business contractor/partner and a competitor, I knew there would be words of wisdom within his prose.

The Other Side of the Fence

Andrew provides quite a bit of information about how both the nonprofit executive making technology decisions thinks, as well as the people in charge of presenting the technology solutions from the for profit companies. Even more important, is the insight into the demands, pressures and obstacles both parties encounter throughout the process.

Brilliant, Andrew!

Would it not be wonderful for this “other side of the fence” glimpse into mindsets and motivations to happen for other encounters in our life? Think of how insightful such a view would be in major donor solicitations?

Maybe therein lies another book just waiting to be written!

Beyond Return On Investment

Perhaps the most important takeaway from the many provided by Andrew is the concept of going beyond the traditional return on investment we see in most technology related transactions.

Here is a key section from the book:

Return on Mission (ROM) is the ability to look beyond the standard Return on Investment (ROI) formula in order to make sure your investments have the maximum impact on not just the bottom line, but to the maximum impact on the mission itself.

Such a focus or mindset allows the nonprofit to rise above purchasing technology, which merely fits into some sort of preordained budget, and move into maximizing the ROM. Most people in the for-profit world often refer to this as spending money to make money! If this thought process did not exist, I seriously wonder if there would be any venture capital firms in the commercial world or the Small Business Administration.

Investing in Infrastructure

A key aspect of the Return on Mission (ROM) is the willingness to invest in something other than new capital projects. This is so often the focus of foundations and other institutional funders. If the leadership of the nonprofit truly understands ROM then the ability to invest in infrastructure comes into play.

Once this option emerges to invest in infrastructure, the vast disparity between the commercial world and nonprofit world in dollars invested might start to even out. Think of the mission impact a decade later when infrastructure investments have fully taken hold.

Thank you, Andrew, for providing a vivid glimpse of what such a future may hold. As a longtime technology provider over the last three decades, I fervently believe the ROM could be phenomenal!

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