Nonprofits work on some of the toughest issues facing the world, ranging from ending poverty to reversing the environmental effects related to climate change.
While nonprofits may not be able to solve these problems in our lifetime, we must be able to show impact and show degrees of success with our advocates and donors. We also need to engage the public at-large on these critical issues and illustrate how we are moving the needle.
How Can a Nonprofit Define Campaign Success that Donors and Advocates will Understand?
The Big Picture
From an advocacy perspective a nonprofit must look at the big picture and overarching goal. For example, is your nonprofit meeting any part of its mission of solving the problem you are fighting?
Let me break it down: if your nonprofit fights poverty, have you decreased poverty by a certain percentage in the last 5 years, 10 years? If eradicating Malaria was your ultimate goal, how close are you to eradicating it? What measurable success have you had?
If you are an environmental organization, what environmental bills passed that impact climate change or that save the world’s oceans from irreversible damage?
The Micro Level
On a more micro level, a nonprofit should look at how effectively you are reaching and engaging with “your people” – the ones who are passionate about the organization’s issues.
Is your nonprofit treating them as a true stakeholder, listening to them and empowering them to become brand ambassadors for the organization? Are you giving them the tools to truly make a difference on this issue (other than just giving them the ability donate money to your organization)?
For example, what can people being doing locally to work on your nonprofit’s issue? Have you given them the training and tools to do this effectively?
Take a look at Surfrider, a community of everyday people who passionately protect the ocean and the beaches. They have launched Ban the Plastic Bag campaigns across the US by organizing people on the ground to help pass ordinances, including lobbying for a small fee on paper bags to encourage more reusable bags.
Is your nonprofit allowing constituents to become involved with your organization on their own terms – not yours? Not everyone is going to be a super activist or big donor, but having a plan in place to move them up the ladder of engagement is critical.
Are you raising enough money to keep your nonprofit going? Without funding to scale, your nonprofit won’t survive.
How does your nonprofit define success? And is that working for you?