A recent article from the Stamford Social Innovation Review should provide some fodder for conversations among nonprofit board, execs, funders and consultants for years to come. The bottom line: according to the 3000 nonprofits who responded to the Engine of Impact survey (you can take the survey now using this link), they are not for the most part getting "it" correct. They are failing and are particularly bad in three of the seven essential elements: board governance, funding, and impact evaluation
After spending several decades researching, advising, and helping lead nonprofits, we have come to believe that the best nonprofits are able to master seven elements that constitute what we call “strategic leadership”: mission, strategy, impact evaluation, insight and courage, organization and talent, funding, and board governance. These elements work together as a system. An organization that exhibits strong performance in all seven areas becomes an “engine of impact” and is capable of achieving real impact on a scale that is adequate to current needs.
For sure it's worth a board and staff's discussion to both review the findings and consider using the tool (it is after all, free). Of course the big challenge does not lay in just understanding what is not working as much as in understanding what steps to take about what's not working. But nonprofits should not be daunted in this learning, there are plenty of us who are glad to help as long as the nonprofit leadership, board and staff, are committed to the work.