Appeals for financial support built upon a sound basis of demonstrated effectiveness are the key to fiscal stability for nonprofits. More and more social investors, individuals, institutions, and governments are asking for evidence of performance in their grant-making. Smaller non-profits cannot afford to rely upon traditional pleas for support, many of which are based upon the size of the problem or how hard the organization is working.
Performance Reporting: Recent studies have demonstrated that an organization's effectiveness is the primary thing donors are interested in. Those who lack evidence of performance are being left behind. Outcomes management is becoming necessary for small nonprofits to stay in the game. Traditionally, this was not necessary. IF the focus was local, and the donors were local, all that was needed was to say, "Here is the problem, you are all aware of it, and we are trying to solve it."
Quantity: In today's economy, however, this is no longer sufficient. Resources are scarce, and the competition is stiffer than ever. Donors seek to measure the impact their giving is having on the problem. Smaller organizations are naturally limited in scope and focus.
These natural limitations, however, can work in their favor. The smaller non-profits are often closer to the situations they address than their larger cousins. They are closer to those they serve, operate with fewer intermediaries, and have a more intimate view of positive and negative influences on the community.
Quality: Outcomes management at smaller non-profits should not be limited to numbers to demonstrate effectiveness. For example, an understanding of the difference between "outputs" and "outcomes" could guide their reporting toward a deeper insight into the nature of positive impacts rather than a simple tally of how many contacts were made over a given time period.
See With Different Eyes: A new perspective for defining and tracking the quality of each individual impact will change the nature of performance reporting for the smaller non-profit. Utilizing a software program like FAMcare's Pathways enables caseworkers in the field to monitor the effectiveness of each case on an ongoing basis.
Tell a Better Story: All this information, when gathered by the grant writer, will tell a very different and compelling story about the impact of a small agency on a big problem. We must begin to realize the "good" we do for each individual and report the quality of our service rather than the quantity of the problem.