Success is not an individual accomplishment. We have all heard the old saying, “There is strength in numbers.”

A common demonstration of this concept is the pencil activity, where your teacher asks you to hold a pencil and break it in half. Easy. The teacher then ties together a bunch of pencils and asks you to break those in half. Not easy.

If you look at the most successful nonprofits today, you will see that they operate on the same principle. Rather than focusing on process alone, they focus on impact. According to Stanford Social Intervention Review, high-impact nonprofits are able to build social movements by working “with and through organizations and individuals outside themselves to create more impact than they ever could have achieved alone.”

The six essential practices found in high-impact nonprofits:

1. Service and advocacy
2. Using markets to their advantage
3. Building and sustaining communities of supporters
4. Building other nonprofit allies and networks
5. Mastering the art of adaptation
6. Sharing leadership

Organizational impact has traditionally been measured through annual analysis of leadership, programs, marketing and fundraising strategies. Internal auditing is an important part of assessment; however, impact today is measured based on how well a nonprofit is able to mobilize all sectors of society to be a force for good.

The idea behind working in tandem with other sectors of society is so that critical nonprofit work does not exist merely to assist those in need, but to eradicate problems by attacking them at their root.

Working together with government agencies, businesses and other key sectors allows nonprofits to develop a holistic approach to get to the root of a problem. Additionally, some of the highest impact nonprofits have recognized that “tapping into the power of self-interest and the laws of economics is far more effective than appealing to pure altruism.”

Another key function of a high-impact organization is the ability to evolve and adapt. Mastering the art of adaptation requires a nonprofit to “evolve its programs and operations as it learns from stakeholders, from its assessment of impact, and from new knowledge in its field.”

Impact assessment is important for the millions of people that nonprofits exist to fight for, because the ultimate goal is not just to alleviate a problem, but to eradicate it completely.

– Rifk Ebeid

Sources: Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fidelty Charity, 501 Connect
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