Impact-centric organizations are more successful at reaching their organization goals due to their ability to use data related to their mission to drive decision making. A key attribute that delineates the truly impact-centric ones from the rest boils down to understanding the “whys” of each of the three key stakeholder groups. Your organization’s whys, your participants’ whys and your funders’ whys, while they certainly overlap, are distinct and unique from one another. And maintaining a sort of dual-vision throughout your work—looking from the inside out, as well as the from the outside in—is essential to reflect upon and to apply these perspectives to each and every aspect of your nonprofit’s programs and services.
The core of an organization’s why lies in its mission statement. However, an organizantion’s mission statement may be too general to get to the heart of the challenge your organization is working to solve. In order to get clear on your organization’s whys, ask the question: “We exist so that…” If these statements stray too far from the mission statement, it may be time for a refresh.
Your Funders’ Whys
Because social sector organizations must demonstrate impact to funders and show that they are good stewards of investments, understanding your funders’ whys can help when trying to secure and advance these important relationships. Communications, such as annual reports, must reflect the progress your organization has made and address the desires of this constituent group. Reducing a community’s taxes needed to address a specific challenge, reducing recidivism, or improving the life circumstances of specific populations to name just a few, are examples of funders’ whys. And even among this stakeholder group, the whys will vary, but taking the time to recognize and acknowledge all of the motivations behind funding decisions will lead to long-term sustainability of your organization.
Your Client/Participants’ Whys
It can be easy to allow your whys and your funders whys to have outsized input into the solutions that are meant to be designed for your participants and beneficiaries. We have witnessed many situations where a particular intervention doesn’t produce the desired community change expected by the organization and its funders. In these cases, when we’ve surveyed the target individuals to determine why they aren’t taking advantage of this new resource, the response is invariably: “We don’t think it’s for us.” For this reason, it is essential to incorporate the target population’s input and feedback into any community solution. Understanding your participants’ whys and integrating their voices into all aspects of the proposed solution will add the depth and the “what’s in it for them” component that is needed to ensure you are not only meeting their needs, but also delivering these services in a way that is culturally appropriate.
Once you have clarified the whys of your organization, your funders and your participants, you are on your way to becoming a truly impact-centric social sector organization. The final piece to the puzzle is to commit to measure and communicate your outcomes against the needs of all of these stakeholder groups to determine the degree to which you are meeting all of their needs.
If you are ready to embark on a new journey to becoming an impact-centric organization, we can help. SureImpact is a social services case management software that helps social sector professionals and organizations develop a framework to measure, track, and communicate how well they are delivering these essential services, and how people are better off. Learn more in this quick overview video.