How to Be a High-Impact Organization

first_imgFocus on impact, and measure progress against results or larger systemic changeToo many organizations measure success by their process or outputs, not impact, particularly with marketing activities — that’s all about your org, not about the difference you make in the world.Design a process that makes impact, not just outputs Harness market forces and see business as a powerful partnerMarketing and capitalism aren’t bad words; don’t be afraidBuilding earned income streams and corporate partnerships are the first steps to impact on a greater scale. Source: About the AuthorNancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications. As President of Nancy Schwartz & Company (, Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to organizations as varied as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Center for Asian American Media, and Wake County (NC) Health Services.Subscribe to her free e-newsletter “Getting Attention”, ( and read her blog at for more insights, ideas and great tips on attracting the attention your organization deserves.NOTE: You’re welcome to “reprint” this article online as long as it remains complete and unaltered (including the copyright and “about the author” info at the end), and you send a copy of your reprint. Researchers Leslie R. Crutchfield and Heather McLeod Grant dug into a dozen high-impact charities to learn what makes them so successful, and have released their surprising findings in Forces for Good:What we discovered after closely examining these 12 high-impact nonprofits came as a bit of a surprise. We had assumed that there was something inherent in these organizations that helped them have great impact – and that their success was directly tied to their growth or management approach. Instead, we learned that becoming a high-impact nonprofit is not just about building a great organization and then expanding it to reach more people. Rather, high-impact nonprofits work with and through organizations and individuals outside themselves to create more impact than they ever could have achieved alone.Perspective is everything.Crutchfield and Grant have shaped the book to serve as a practical guide rather than an abstract treatise, identifying the 11 characteristics common to successful nonprofits. And what’s particularly interesting to me is that four of the 11 criteria are squarely marketing focused, which suggests that nonprofits that pay lip service to marketing (or execute traditional us-to-them marketing strategies only) lose out big time.The four marketing musts are:Convert individuals into evangelists for your organization and for the causeThey’re the most powerful marketing strategy you’ll ever see, and when the cause advances, your organization does too.But, to make this strategy work, you have to engage your supporters emotionally, not just intellectually or politically. Are you doing so?center_img Nurture networks of nonprofits; see related orgs as allies, not competitorsForgetting to communicate with existing and prospective partners is one of the most common nonprofit marketing mistakesBuilding relationships with other orgs in your issue arena is key to raising awareness and moving your issue agenda forward –you get the power, knowledge and complementary perspective of like orgsOngoing communications — that’s the nurturing — is a must to building a powerful networks. Don’t hit and run. Read Forces for Good for a clear-eyed look at what will make your organization successful, as well as detailed case studies on twelve organizations putting these strategies into practice today.last_img