Defining Success

If a nonprofit achieves success, foundations and donors are more likely to continue investing and the mission can continue. But, what is success?

Among the many definitions of success is the accomplishment of set goals. The key to meeting established goals are the measurement of specific objectives aligned with the goals. An example of a goal is to feed the hungry. Objectives would include receiving pounds of food so people will have something to eat.

Yet, most of the time there is limited or partial success. As an example, during the week there will be days when everyone is fed, some days when most of the people are fed, and days when some or none of the people are fed. Also, the variety of food on any day may not be enough. Was the week a success?

There is no absolute success in anything. Instead, there are different levels of success. While the goal could be to feed all the people all the time, there is still success if most of the people are fed some of the time.

Just setting goals and tracking objectives is rarely enough to determine success. It is the people working the mission who know if success has been achieved. Yes, there may not be enough food on some days and the variety may be lacking. However, the people in need could have other resources to get food. It could be that just helping them some of the time was enough to not go hungry.

The point of this blog is for nonprofits to put value in what is accomplished and relay this back to foundations and donors so they will understand. Numbers tell only part of the story. The people involved tell the other part.

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