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There’s Nothing Energizing About Complexity

January 27, 2012

Engraved stone at the Grove Park Inn in Ashville, reading "Be not simply good--be good for something."

If you’re working hard on your organization’s profile in The Giving Partner, you know there is a considerable amount you are asked to share.

It may be time consuming at the front end, but complex? It’s not. And complex plans, statements and program success measures aren’t the focus or the goal.

Hal Williams, an internationally-known thought leader in outcomes is visiting our community this week to talk about results-based leadership, communications and strategy versus the more common but relatively meaningless “activities based” form of operations to which we have become so accustomed.

Hal worked with the creators of DonorEdge to develop the program fields, and together, they answer the big picture question shrewd donors want to know: “What result are you achieving when my dollars go to work?”

Two keys to a successful nonprofit, according to Hal, are:

  1. A spotlight on programmatic  results instead of activities; and
  2. Keeping it simple

The CEO and board can energize your staff, donors and volunteers for a focus on results by setting a powerful example…

  • Constantly pushing for stronger outcomes for those you serve
  • Insuring that everyone knows what the next results are to be and making their behavior intentional to receiving them
  • Focusing clearly on a few key accomplishments 
  • Dropping the conversations based on activities and always keeping the desired achievement at the center of discussions

Check out those questions again in the program section of The Giving Partner. Do your answers speak to results? Will they get an investor-centered donor excited?

Let’s not stop with The Giving Partner as a donor development tool.

You will find a number of fields in The Giving Partner asking about your people, your plans and your policies. Are those outcome based?  Yes. And here’s why:  from our point of view, one very important result of The Giving Partner is building strong nonprofits that are certain of their direction and how they’ll get there.  But complexity isn’t a player we’ve invited to the table.

Everyone knows that a plan on the shelf is no good. Some of the best plans we’ve seen are really simple. A good strategic plan may be as basic as a one page chart outlining the key accomplishments you hope to achieve, strategies to achieve them, who’s responsible and when they are to be accomplished.

Remember, it’s not about voluminous documents. It’s not about your activities. It’s about making a difference and what allows you to do it. Burn your positive energy to inspire others, and let us know how we can help.

From our foundation’s point of view, we have work to do as well in giving the right signals about the outcome-based results we’re hoping to achieve as we invest in nonprofits.  We’re certainly not above the road to continous improvement either.  It’s all about evolution, right?

-Susie Bowie
Director, The Giving Partner
Community Foundation of Sarasota County

Learn more about Hal Williams online.

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