Over the past 10 years in particular, one focus looming large in the nonprofit sector has been on accountability. I believe that terms like "managing to outcomes" and "being results focused" are becoming a standard part of the nonprofit lexicon, moving beyond the large nonprofits and into the middle and possibly even smaller nonprofits as well as from paid staff to volunteers and, thankfully, boards.
While the language is being embraced, the actual work of managing to outcomes and being results focused may be traveling on a slower path, particularly when nonprofits are in survival mode. Survival of course is not a goal in itself but it oftentimes pushes mission to the background.
Welcome Mr. Mario Marino, a patron of the nonprofit sector who has been doing his part to strengthen the sector through his Venture Philanthropy Partners. Mr. Marino has pulled together the lessons of his experience, the work of Venture Philanthropy Partners and the experience of "friends" to write and distribute (for free -- as a VPP service), Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity.
I must say though, both in content and format, that Leap of Reason does take me back to Al Gore's way shorter book, Reinventing Government (1993) which was really a report on how to develop an effective government. Similarities include the basic definitions (what should be common language by now but for some reason....) and the compendium of readings (very helpful).
Anyway, Leap of Reasons offers sound thoughts about what constitutes outcomes (a far more liberal perspective than others preach) and provides processes for managing to outcomes. Leap of Reason could legitimately serve as a text book in the training of those who would be or are execs. It also should be considered a tool for helping execs prepare their Board Chairs for leading.
Leap of Reasons reminds us that despite the amount of resources at our disposal, mission/outcomes are all that matter, and basically, this is enough. Single or multiple copies are available by going on-line to www.leapofreason.org.