January 15, 2015

Nonprofit Management Tools and Trends 2015 - Tool Descriptions

The Bridgespan Group's Nonprofit Management Tools and Trends 2015 report provides insight from 481 nonprofit executives on the use and effectiveness of 25 top tools (see descriptions below) as well as their opinions on the importance of 21 major trends affecting the sector.

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Getting Clear on Your Goals and Strategy

Intended Impact/Theory of Change
Clarifying precisely what a nonprofit will hold itself accountable for achieving, and how it will accomplish it.

Mission and Vision Statements
Explaining the organization's reason for existence and goals in a single compelling sentence.

Program Contribution Analysis
Analyzing the contribution each program makes to accomplishing a nonprofit's mission, and the financial contribution it makes (break-even, net contributor, or net user).

Strategic Planning
Planning for the next 3-5 years; also known as business planning.

Scenario and Contingency Planning
Identifying potential situations and environments the nonprofit may encounter in the future, and deciding how the organization should respond.

Measuring and Extending Your Success

Beneficiary Satisfaction Measurement
Soliciting information from beneficiaries on the strengths and weaknesses of a nonprofit's services, and how to better meet their expectations and needs.

Donor Relationship Management
Thoughtfully cultivating relationships with new donors and stewarding current donors in order to maximize donor retention, engagement and investment.

Knowledge Management
Proactively collecting, reflecting on, sharing, and integrating knowledge and insights, in order to improve a nonprofit's practices and programs.

Program Evaluation
Conducting studies to determine a program's impact, outcomes, or consistency of implementation (e.g. randomized control trials).

Performance Measurement and Improvement
Continuously tracking important data (typically by staff, using an internal data system) for accountability, learning and improvement (e.g. ETO, balanced scorecard, dashboards).

Running an Effective Enterprise

Decision-Making Processes
Clarifying how decisions will be made, who will make them, and how others in the organization will be involved (e.g. RAPID, RACI, etc.).

Full Cost Analysis
Determining the actual total cost of each program by allocating all direct and indirect costs (also known as service line contribution or total cost allocation).

Leadership Succession Planning
Proactively identifying and developing new leaders to succeed current ones and meet the nonprofit's future leadership needs

Organizational Effectiveness Diagnostic
Identifying organizational strengths and weaknesses through a structured rating by senior management.

Talent Assessment and Development
Creating systematic processes to identify a nonprofit's human capital needs and develop staff accordingly (also known as staff development)..

Taking Advantage of New Opportunities

Collective Impact Collaborations
Creating formal cross-sector partnerships and working together to address a common goal.

Design Thinking
Using creative brainstorming and experimentation techniques to surface, identify, test and implement new approaches and solutions.

Partnerships and Collaboration
Working together with other nonprofits to achieve greater impact (e.g. shared services, mergers, joint programming, etc.).

Social Media
Using social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) to help accomplish a nonprofit's goals.

Understanding Your Environment

Beneficiary and Donor Segmentation
Grouping beneficiaries and donors into categories based on needs, interests or other key characteristics.

Comparing a nonprofit to its peers or best practices in the field.

Big Data Analytics
Analyzing large data sets to identify useful insights.

Constituent Engagement
Gathering input from or deeply involving the individuals, families, and communities an organization affects (also known as beneficiary engagement).

Funding Models
Clarifying the best strategy for building a reliable revenue base.

Market Mapping and Landscape Analysis
Identifying all the key players in a field, sector or geography and classifying them by relevant characteristics (type, revenue, etc.)

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