Monday, June 29, 2009

The Program Effectiveness Dilemma - Impact on the Community

More and more, nonprofits are being asked to demonstrate program effectiveness. To paraphrase Phil Buchanan, President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, who spoke at our Annual Forum just a couple weeks ago – nonprofits are being asked to show what it’s trying to change, how it’s going about doing that, and how will it know when it accomplishes it.

Of course, although donors and funders are looking for measurements of program effectiveness, the challenge with having a standard about this is that every nonprofit is different – with different goals, constituents, services, and outcomes. We heard this loud and clear in the focus groups we held from both people in the philanthropic sector and in the nonprofit sector. Recognizing this challenge, the Impact on the Community standard focuses on the process of a nonprofit communicating to the public its mission-related accomplishments. The intended outcome of this standard is to start a dialogue between the nonprofit and donors.

The Council believes that knowing whether a nonprofit has accomplished or is making progress toward its mission-related goals is crucial in making a giving decision. The Council also believes that communicating future program goals allows donors to evaluate the nonprofit's alignment with their giving philosophy.

The nonprofit tells the public in its annual report or on its website, using specific objective information, what it accomplished in the previous year in relation to its mission and how it has impacted the community. The nonprofit also relates its goals for the next year.

In addition to hearing from people their thoughts about this preliminary standard, we’d like to hear how your organization evaluates its work. How do you tell the story of what, how and how will you know?

Next up: Financial Transparency

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