The National Council of Nonprofits and its network of state nonprofit associations are well known for promoting and educating nonprofit staff and board members about best practices. They recognize that when your nonprofit’s finances are tight, and staff and board members are stretched thin, the operating environment feels as if you are “drinking out of a fire hose.” Many nonprofits and their leaders prefer DOING, rather than examining the process of how the doing gets done. But, there are risks to not pausing and asking, “How are we doing? Are we making a difference?” Asking these questions, and making a commitment to improvement, are steps that can help every nonprofit thrive and grow into a more influential force for good.
Speaking of small but influential, there is a community of cheerleaders for nonprofits, dubbed the “Leap Ambassadors” (after the wildly popular book, Leap of Reason), who are promoting a best practice framework, “The Performance Imperative.” The idea is that by focusing on several pillars of high performance, a nonprofit can significantly improve its effectiveness and in the process thrive. The National Council of Nonprofits agrees with this approach. (Full disclosure: two members of our staff are Leap Ambassadors.)
Even the smallest nonprofits can benefit from incorporating best practices into everyday operations. But where to start? The commitment to adopt best practices may feel overwhelming. Using a framework can help you prioritize and organize the hard work of continuous improvement. The new guide, “Small but Mighty: The Performance Imperative for Small Nonprofits,” was developed by the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community to help your organization along its best practice journey. Nonprofits in the majority of states can also tap into the best practices promoted by their state associations of nonprofits, enhanced by educational programs and in many states, by checklists and self-audits, special recognition opportunities, and support through a peer group of nonprofits working to adopt the same best practices.
Resources on Best Practices
- Principles and Practices – Where Can You Find “Best Practices” for Nonprofits? (National Council of Nonprofits)
- All About Measuring Outcomes (National Council of Nonprofits)
- Small but Mighty: The Performance Imperative for Small Nonprofits (Leap Ambassadors)
- Measuring the Impact of Your Nonprofit Program (Beth Kanter)
- Standards for Excellence (Standards for Excellence Institute/Maryland Nonprofits)
- Best Practice Guide (New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits)
- Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence (Colorado Nonprofits)
- IT Best Practices for Nonprofits (Minnesota Council of Nonprofits)
- Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in Maine (Maine Association of Nonprofits)
- Infrastructure Checklist and Assessment Tool (Nonprofit Association of the Midlands)
- Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence in West Virginia, plus an assessment tool (West Virginia Nonprofit Association)
For more information, contact Jennifer Chandler, Director of Training, National Council of Nonprofits.
Published: November 8, 2017