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Strategic Decision Making For Nonprofits

The outcome results or impact measures are not the indicators that leaders should be managing. Rather, leaders need to focus on the underlying cause and effect linkages that drive impact.

Joseph, Director of Customer Success at ClearPoint, has over 10 years of experience working with customers to create efficient performance management and strategy execution processes.

One of the most notable current trends in the nonprofit arena is for donors to look for a "return on investment" for their charitable giving. They want to know that their donation to one organization will yield social impact. More than that, they want to know that your organization will yield a greater impact than another cause to which they could donate.

This is a positive trend for sensible (dare I say "strategic") charitable giving. However, the outcome results or impact measures are not the indicators that leaders should be managing. Rather, leaders need to focus on the underlying cause and effect linkages that drive impact.

Accountability for results will make all organizations run better. Leaders need to articulate what results they are seeking and what level of performance has been achieved. And just as profit driven companies cannot just wait for financial results – mission driven organizations cannot just wait for impact. You have to manage the drivers and oversee the strategic decision making process to achieve those results. And you have to do so in a way that ensures organizational health and sustainability.

Top 3 Strategic Decision Making Objectives

1. Be clear about the organization's mission and its definition of purpose (objective, advantage, scope). But from there you must really think through the cause and effect linkages that drive the strategy that will yield results.

  • What are the needs and expectations of the customer (that will differentiate you)?
  • What are the financial objectives that you are responsible for?
  • Which internal processes will lead to the results just listed?
  • What are the skills and culture required for your people to execute on those processes?

With each of these questions answered you have made explicit the cause and effect linkages that comprise your strategy.

2.  Define the measures that will reflect progress against all components of this strategy. Are we retaining key staff? Is that key staff able to execute innovative processes more efficiently? Does this save us money? Are we able to serve more people?

3. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there must be a culture of accountability for these results. Not everyone can have a direct impact on the clients or beneficiaries of your product or service. But they may have an impact on providing performance review and development plans that are so important for high performing staff or in supporting the IT infrastructure which makes it possible for everyone to do their job. By broadening the organizations focus to include the underlying cause and effect linkages everyone will be focused on achieving the mission.

 

Strategic Decision Making For Nonprofits