Today, hundreds of billions of dollars flow into the non profit sector annually. Yet, we can’t seem to move the needle on many of the most pressing social issues facing society. Consider the following:
- The U.S. infant mortality rate– a key indicator of the health and well being of a nation – is currently one of the highest among industrialized nations (#28 out 30), and is more than double the rates of the top-ranked nations
- Only 70% of U.S. high school students graduate. In some states high school graduation rate is as low as 50%
- Most of those who are incarcerated lack a high school degree
- The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate among all industrialized nations
What we are doing today simply isn’t working. Many believe that our inability to affect social change is due to the inefficient way in which we fund non profit organizations. Presently, fundraising success depends on having a recognized brand, low overhead, and the ability to tell heartwarming stories— none of which have anything to do with an organization’s ability to generate social value.
As a result of the sector’s ineffectiveness, there is growing funder interest in identifying and supporting organizations that are highly likely to generate social value. These are high-performing non profits. High-performers have the following characteristics:
- They have reasonable goals and objectives that are in-line with available resources
- They have a well-conceived strategy for achieving their goals
- They have identified key milestones and indicators that they can use to measure their progress towards achieving their goals
- They collect quality data that relates efforts taken to desired outcomes, so that they can tell what’s working and what’s not working
- They use data to make mid-course corrections and continuously improve
Organizations with these characteristics have a better chance of achieving their goals than the low-performers who do not have them. This is due to the fact that high-performers will be able to navigate their way to success through continuous improvement. Those who are not high-performing stand little chance of intentionally achieving their goals.
A variety of initiatives are currently underway to expedite a change in the way that funds move to non profit organizations:
- Charity Navigator (America’s premier independent charity evaluator) is now evolving its rating methodology to focus less on overhead and more on performance
- More than 40 thought leaders in the non profit sector have come together to form the Alliance for Effective Social Investing, whose mission is to “drive more money to high-performing nonprofits.”
- A new documentary film called Saving Philanthropy will be release in the next few months; this will build awareness of the importance of high-performing organizations and the consequences of giving to those who are not high-performing.
If your organization is not currently a high-performing organization, then it’s time to begin your transformation into one.
On September 26th – 27th, Social Solutions will host a conference that brings together a group of non profit performance management experts prepared to help you understand the steps necessary to become more performance-oriented. Attending this conference could determine the future financial viability and effectiveness of your organization. For more information about this important event, please visit http://www.socialsolutions.com/etolution2011/index.aspx. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to maximize your success.