Being True to Our Mission

Interesting article in the Wall Street Journal recently – Charity Rankings Giveth Less Than Meets the Eye This article jumped off the page for me.

The nonprofit sector can no longer be complacent – especially, regarding how we are measured not just by ourselves but our donors and those pesky rating agencies like Charity Navigator.

We need to take a stand and develop a new and innovative method for measuring our effectiveness – not by dollars raised or a convoluted SOP 98-2 process that can be jury-rigged to fit the outcome we want. Why are we all sitting by and letting this happen? It’s kind of like the lazzi-fare attitude that Wall Street faced for so many years. Everyone seemed to be in on the little secret that there was a house of cards being built but no one really cared as long as everyone continued to prosper from the deceit.

Is the nonprofit sector much different? Really? We are perfectly content producing what we feel are legitimate numbers and percentages and do our best to “comply” with the rating systems and perhaps acquire the BBB seal of approval. But if you are like many in the industry there is something gnawing at you — yet you don’t know what to do because there is an ocean of movement going in one direction.

Well, one by one, we can take a new direction that someday might become the norm for measuring nonprofits. The paradigm shift that needs to happen involves completely rethinking how we measure success.

Lets begin taking a hard look at this and figure out a way, a new method, that will logically and effectively measure if we have accomplished our mission and goals or not. Whether its serving people in a soup kitchen, drilling bore holes for fresh water, funding a cure for diabetes, educating people, building an art museum, or filling some other social or cultural need, we need to quantify what we have done in real terms not simply financial terms that often don’t align with the lives being changed.

I don’t have the answer – perhaps you do – but the best thing we can do is to begin the conversation – NOW before its too late…. and we are another casualty, like the investment community.