As a leader in the business of making lives better for others, you face a continuous need to deliver programs and services that help individuals, families, and communities thrive. You’re so busy doing the work, you often don’t have time to pause and ask if what you are doing is working. If your organization did things differently, would you achieve different results?
Whether you strive to eliminate generational poverty through improved educational opportunities, provide resources to address housing stability for families, or connect homeless veterans with critical mental health resources, how your organization is structured is predictive of how successful your organization will be at attracting coveted resources and achieving your mission.
So, how do you build a solid organization that can maximize your efforts? Three strategies you can apply to help you achieve that solid organization are to standardize your processes, measure your success, and stay focused.
Standardize Your Processes
Running a social-good organization can be complicated. And the larger the organization, the more moving parts are involved in making things happen. One way to make sure everything happens when and how it should is to create Standard Operating Procedures, often called SOPs.
SOPs are written instructions outlining the standards, policies, and processes that should be followed as team members fulfill their assigned jobs. Some SOPs are detailed step-by-step guides that provide granular instructions on how to complete a task. This type of document is helpful for precision tasks that must be completed the exact same way each time, such as properly collecting data or filling out a report. Other SOPs might not include every mouse click and text field, but they outline important information such as the order tasks must be completed in, who is responsible for each step, and how to communicate both success and failure.
Creating documentation might sound cumbersome, but SOPs can actually save your organization time and effort in several critical ways.
Disorganized organizations face redundancies, inefficiencies, and communication challenges that create barriers to effectively and efficiently achieving their mission. Standardizing processes not only helps your team members understand their own role, it also provides them with insight into the roles of others. This promotes coordination and communication that can streamline everything you do.
Ensuring Accountability & Compliance
Accountability requires standards. Otherwise, there are no guideposts to measure against. Your staff must be held accountable for the work they provide, while your organization as a whole is accountable for following the requirements and policies of both funders and governments.
Created SOPs can help you achieve both. When everyone at your organization knows what they are supposed to be doing, what they are not supposed to be doing, and what policies to follow, it provides a framework to hold team members accountable, while also ensuring that the organization as a whole stays compliant with all applicable rules and regulations.
Whether a team member calls in sick, goes on vacation, or resigns their position, it is important to understand their role and what needs to happen to make sure it is filled. Written SOPs provide an invaluable resource for staff members attempting to provide consistent results in the face of transition. They also help new team members come up to speed faster.
Without measuring the impact of your programs, it’s nearly impossible for your nonprofit to accurately define the effectiveness of your services. What success looks like to you depends on the mission and focus of your organization, but you cannot communicate success to either your team members or your funders until you can measure it.
1. Build a Framework
To get the best insights from your data, you need to develop a framework. The building that houses your nonprofit’s headquarters has a structure that supports everything from the roof, to the walls, to the floor. Without that structure, nothing that happens inside your building would be possible. Your efforts to measure success also require a structure, or framework, that supports and guides everything you do. An impact measurement framework allows you to set consistent strategies and measurements as you work to measure success.
2. Determine Specific Measurements and KPIs
With your framework set, you can then determine the specific measurements and KPIs that accurately reflect your organization's holistic impact and the particular outcomes, outputs, activities, and inputs that go into it.
3. Collect Data
While it may seem like a pivotal moment in the stages of impact measurement, data collection is not a single, one-and-done activity. In fact, data collection is ongoing and never really ends. The SOPs you’ve developed can help you make sure that your data is collected in a consistent and clean way that provides the best results possible.
5. Share Across Your Network
Finally, in order to truly benefit from measuring your nonprofit’s impact, you need to communicate your impact measurement results with stakeholders—your funders, donors, board members, volunteers, and constituents. Leverage your data to show your successes alongside the opportunities for additional support.
Organizations who provide high-quality services stay focused on achieving their own mission. Every community has more needs than any single organization can ever hope to address.
But your organization can do more good by working to develop a depth of knowledge and experience in your own area. This commitment allows high performing organizations to focus on continuously improving your tools, processes, management and monitoring toward excellence, because all of your resources and energy are focused and not fragmented. You can then work to address the complex needs of individuals through collaboration with other organizations that compliment your own.
As you work to standardize your processes, measure success, and focus on your mission, you need the right tools to make it all possible.
SureImpact is a purpose-built impact management platform that is designed for social-good providers by social-good providers. SureImpact provides the data collection, impact reporting, and analytics infrastructure to meet the unique needs of social-good organizations as they work to build a culture of continuous improvement and maximize their social impact.
Watch our SureImpact Product Tour video to learn more.