I’m sorry nonprofits, it’s just not enough.

Reactionary efforts in the wake of natural disasters and national emergencies should not be the only occasion the needle moves.

Friday, June 30th marked the last day of the fiscal year for many nonprofits. Most of them have spent these past few months working around the clock to garner enough support to reach their annual goals. The pressure is high for these organizations, whose clients are often homeless, sick, disabled, or disenfranchised and who rely on the programs nonprofits provide to meet their basic needs, live, and thrive.

Despite the necessity of their programs, even the strongest nonprofits face regular fundraising hurdles. With over 1.5 million registered in the US, they are challenged now more than ever before to prove that they are the best vehicle to execute their mission. To do so means collecting hard data, running efficient, lean operations, developing innovative programs, as well as exhibiting the utmost professionalism and transparency.

Nonprofits almost always partner with communities and corporations on a one-time basis, usually in the wake of natural disasters, national emergencies or unanimous calls to action. However, reactionary, sporadic projects should not be the only occasion the needle moves. Deep impact requires strategic collaboration. Hence, Collective Impact has become an increasingly popular phrase in the voluntary sector.

Visual representation of Collective Impact

Simply stated, Collective Impact is a collaboration among the public, private and philanthropic sectors to achieve results. With this approach, nonprofits utilize only their most effective programs and bring them to the table in a larger collaborative that is more likely to achieve results than they could on their own.

To prove impact, nonprofits must go further than stating their own efforts when it comes to impact. Donors aren’t as curious about the number of students you serve or meals you deliver, as they are about: How many students showed improvements in academics, attendance, social skills, emotional development and more as a result of the program? How many public dollars did the meal deliveries replace and what is the annual household savings to those recipients? These questions address the metrics all donors really care about no matter what their level of philanthropy; therefore tracking, analyzing and reporting this information is paramount to donor integrity.

If the task seems daunting, nonprofits ought to remember that every single dollar they receive means the owner believed:

· The organization’s mission is solvable.

· The organization has the competence to identify and or execute the solution.

· The financial contribution they make will aid in executing the solution.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A well-designed collaborative helps nonprofits meet their obligations to supporters, by achieving and sustaining, unprecedented results; a worthwhile initiative for all nonprofits, who must remember that donors never give money to a mission, they make an investment in its fulfillment.

By specializing in impact-focused services like performance measurement and data strategy, nonprofits can find economical ways to prepare themselves for Collective Action, and not a moment too soon.