Consensus building for the nonprofit sector

publication date: Aug 9, 2011
author/source: Michael Johnston
There was a reason Peter Drucker moved more of his professional work to the nonprofit sector and away from the commercial sector: problem solving in the nonprofit sector is often much more complicated from a change management perspective.

With multiple bottom lines, nonprofit organizations are very complicated creatures. That's our day-to-day experience here at hjc when we try to help our nonprofit clients create and integrate strategic (and tactical) marketing, fundraising, and stewardship plans.

With so many competing interests in a nonprofit - IT, donor relations, marketing, communications, fundraising, public relations, service delivery, education, programs, etc. - all having somewhat connected but different goals and measurements for success, it's frustrating and difficult to bring everyone under one plan.

Of course, in the commercial world, there are also competing interests internally, but the singular bottom line of profit or loss is a sharp mistress of discipline and cooperation. Not so much with nonprofits.

Shared goals and their measurement

However, we've found one strategic management consulting tool that's proved very effective for our clients: the "Balanced Scorecard." The commercial world has been able to apply this high-level process to provide what we often call the "dramatic oversimplification" of a strategic plan - a clear, simple place to see how teams (departments) are performing for themselves and together.

To get to that Balanced Scorecard for integrated fundraising, I often rope in all of the departments to spend a day across the table from one another. In order to get to that shared Balanced Scorecard, we work to shared set of goals as follows:

  1. To establish a value-statement/service commitment, considering values of volunteers, beneficiaries, donors, employees and the community;
  2. To provide the nonprofit team and other stakeholders an opportunity to present their needs and expectations for integrated fundraising, and share in creating the new integrated fundraising action plan;
  3. To promote innovation and problem-solving;
  4. To create a forum for constructively resolving conflicts and clarifying misunderstandings; and
  5. To develop a higher-quality integrated fundraising strategic and tactical plan.

Here's a sample of a balanced scorecard for a recent client from Germany.
Balanced Scorecard

You'll notice that there is an empirical underpinning in the different sections that informs and connects to other areas of prospective accomplishment. The goal of the consultant and the organization are to ensure that different parts of the organization (departments, etc) agree to this balanced scorecard and work together to support one another.

What a Balanced Scorecard provides

It's important that when I leave the day across from one another, I end up with the notes, thoughts, and agreement on a Balanced Scorecard that clearly outlines:

  • The goals that are to be accomplished;
  • How each goal contributes to the organization's overall strategic goals for the current and future plan;
  • What specific results must be accomplished to help reach the goals of the organization;
  • How those results will be achieved in the current and future plan;
  • When the results will be achieved (or timelines for each objective); and
  • How success will be measured.

I want to make sure that when a CEO or senior management executive looks at their Balanced Scorecard (crafted by the whole organization), they can not only evaluate the success or failure of the integrated marketing or fundraising initiatives of the organization more effectively, but they'll be able to understand how the integrated marketing or fundraising initiatives fit into the organization's larger mission. That is just so satisfying to a leader!

Michael Johnston is founder and president of hjc, which specializes in integrated fundraising, brand building and campaigning. Since 1992, the company has worked with nonprofits to bring online and other channels together. hjc's strategic consulting team brings together some of the most innovative thinkers in the nonprofit sector. And the in-house production team of designers, programmers and copywriters can do it all - delivering complete programs. For more information on hjc programs or the Balanced Scorecard,

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