Tag Archives: Organizational Assessment

What Were Your Nonprofit’s Goals for the Past Year?

Making Your Nonprofit's GoalsIt’s approaching year-end. I hope by now your annual appeal plan is in place and your initial letters and emails are seeing results. Now is a good time to review the past year. You will not have all your data yet and know whether you reached all of your goals. That can be assessed in January. Now is the time to consider the larger picture, like what were your nonprofit’s goals for the past year?


What were your priorities? Were you working to increase the total number of donors or working on upgrading the $50 and under gifts? Did you have a plan to increase the number of members or make more stewardship touches each month? Was there a plan to have more board members involved in your fundraising effort or to reassess your board manual? Each nonprofit has a unique set of circumstances, but no nonprofit organization (or even for-profit) can afford to stand still year after year.

****If none of this applies to you because you didn’t set out goals for this year, don’t worry. Well, maybe you should worry a bit, but only to use that worry to push you into action. Next year is another opportunity to make an impact through a detailed, goal-oriented development plan.


Did you have a plan to achieve your goals? Did you make it through all the steps in your plan?
• If you did, what were the results? Be honest. Did you really contact 10 additional donors each month? Did those additional touches impact their giving? Or strengthen their feelings about the organization? Did they start to come to new events? In other words, qualitatively or quantitatively, what were the results?
• If you did not have a plan or did not make it through enough steps to make an impact, what prevented your success. Did you lack financial resources, time, staff/board buy-in, or even that you never made it your priority. Be brutally honest.
• If you don’t know how to assess your results, your plan was not well defined. While some efforts don’t show direct ROI, there should be measurements of success in every aspect of your plan.


Now it’s time to consider next year’s priorities. Pick a new goal or two (or revise an old one) and create a detailed plan. How can you achieve these goals? Who will you need to help you succeed? How will you assess your results next year? How will you overcome the anticipated, or unanticipated, resistance?

If you are not sure where to start, consider an organizational assessment. We offer an Organization and Development Assessment where we review and offer suggestions (click here for details).

Of course, you can assess your own organization. Just make sure you don’t avoid what makes you, the board or the staff uncomfortable. Accuracy and honesty will be essential in developing a usable plan. And a solid, usable plan will help your nonprofit raise more money, strengthen its board, or reorganize your staffing structure.

Just make sure there is a plan, so you are not looking back on 2018 and wondering why you didn’t achieve your goals.

Is It Time To Realign? by Jon Firger


Jon FirgerFor those of us living in the North, there are a series of rites we practice each year. After a cold winter, we emerge in spring to consider the potholes and frost heaves that wreak havoc on our vehicles. If you are like me, you soon become aware that your car no longer continues in a straight course toward the destination but, rather, begins to drift off of its desired path. That’s when you know that it’s time for a realignment. It’s an annual expense, but, nonetheless, a great investment to prevent more severe damage and cost down the road.

So too you must realign our organizations to ensure that you maintain your direction and not drift off course.

What is organizational alignment?

When an organization is properly aligned, leadership determines vision and mission, which in turn determine strategy. Strategy guides decision-making; structure, human resource development, service mix, behavior and culture. When each of these elements is aligned, a high-performance organization emerges that is efficient, effective and successful!

If the past year was your economic winter, you can see that financial stress can slowly move your organization out of alignment. Decisions seem only to be driven by financial concerns. The competition for internal and external resources builds tensions between leadership, management, staff and clients. Cutting costs suddenly takes priority over capacity building, strategic thought and service in the scramble for economic sustainability.

What are six warning signs that your organization is no longer aligned?

      1. Tension develops between volunteer and professional leadership over decision-making.


      2. Most decisions become financially-based, without consideration of mission,vision and values.


      3. Your development strategy moves from long-term, systematic growth to short term desperation.


      4. You find that the necessity of cost cutting has diminished your administrative capacity to a less than adequate status.


      5. Your Strategic Plan begins gathering dust on a shelf in your office.


    6. Your staff development activities are put on “hold” until conditions improve.

How does the re-alignment process work?
Organizations, like humans tend to return to familiar (albeit dysfunctional) behaviors when placed under extreme stress. Self awareness is the first step toward health. The first step toward organizational realignment is a thorough organizational assessment to obtain precise and accurate diagnostic information. The assessment tool must effectively measure organizational performance in every element of the alignment chain and identify high impact intervention points.

Once the assessment data is obtained, the next step is usually to focus on your most vital resource; your people. Whether you will be creating a new strategic plan, entering into a capital campaign, or re-evaluating your human resource needs, you need to get your people – your volunteer leadership, your management team, your staff and other important stakeholders – together in one place and remind yourselves of the vision and values, mission and history that makes your work so very important. If you can successfully realign your organization and your people, you can then enter into the spring of growth on a course that leads directly to that vision.