A simple starting for understanding the impact of nonprofit organizations. This a holistic view that proceeds metrics that quantify the impact of nonprofit organizations.
This article is about maximizing the impact of the operations of your organization rather than the work you do to advance the cause your organization is focused on.
I invented a methodology to help a village in sub-Saharan Africa and called it Maximum Positive Impact then I adapted that methodology into a philosophy of life and wrote a book about it.
‘I Imagine’ is the physical manifestation of the philosophy. My TEDx Talk about how to find your passion has more than 1 million views but it’s really a talk about how to maximize your impact.
I have been living and breathing this issue for twenty years.
We can easily get into a long and complex discussion about it but my objective in this article is to provide a very brief, practical, and succinct outline of how you can maximize your impact on your nonprofit.
The simplest way to think about the impact of your business is to break it down into your impact on your:
Let’s briefly discuss each category.
Impact Of Nonprofit Organizations On Employees
Always start by answering the obvious question – what can my nonprofit do that will have the biggest positive impact on my employees? Possible answers include:
- Respectful and positive attitude toward co workers
- Enough pressure to be challenging but not so much that it becomes stressful
- Alignment of business goals (and what the business stands for) with employees’ goals
- Encourage individual expression
- Reasonable compensation and bonuses or profit sharing
- Enjoyable work that allows employees to take advantage of existing skills and develop new skills
- Workplace policies that encourage inclusivity and equality
- Comfortable workplace: comfortable furniture, temperature, noise levels
An easy way to review the impact of your business on your employees to simply ask what impact your nonprofit has on the LIfewall of each employee.
The Lifewall is a variation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (and improvement, in my humble opinion).
It breaks life down into 21 critical elements. We have created an interactive version of the Lifewall on ‘I Imagine’.
It’s free and there’s virtually nothing to learn. Start by using it for yourself then use it to think about how your nonprofit impacts the Lifewall elements of your employees.
Impact Of Nonprofit Organizations On Customers
Some nonprofits don’t have customers. The ‘customers’ just refers to who you are serving. What can my nonprofit do that will have the biggest positive impact on my customers? Possible answers include:
- Target customers: you can maximize your impact by targeting specific people that need more help e.g. a specific minority group
- Target result: you can maximize your impact by offering products or services that help the customer achieve a result that has a positive impact on their lives e.g. services that help with weight loss, mental health, getting out of poverty, etc.
- Quality products & services: the higher the quality the of your products and services the bigger the impact they can have on your customer
- What you stand for: People like to buy from people that share similar values
- How your product or service is made: If you use forced labor or do something that harms the environment a proportion of your potential customers will not buy from you.
When creating your products or service ask:
- What can I do that will have a positive impact on my customers. Make a list.
- Take this a step further and ask, what is one thing we can do that will have the biggest positive impact on our customers?
- Every customer is a person (or a person representing a business), so use the Lifewall to think about what you can do that will have a positive impact on each component of the Lifewall of your customers.
Impact Of Nonprofit Organizations Stakeholders
The stakeholders could just be you but it can also be the employees, partners, or donors.
Regardless of your situation, you will still need to answer the same question – What can my business do that will have the biggest positive impact on the owners of the nonprofit? Possible answers include:
- Make sure you spend their money wisely. Get their input in to make sure that your objectives are aligned with your stakeholders. The easiest way to have a negative impact on your stakeholders (and subsequently on yourself) is to lose their money.
- Look for the optimal balance between giving all of the other stakeholders (employees, customers, community and environment) everything they want while retaining enough money and resources to be able to grow the nonprofit.
Your community might be geographic or it might include people from all over the world that have a common interest.
So, as usual, answer this question – what can my nonprofit do that will have the biggest positive impact on my community? Possible answers include:
- Publicly promote and, if necessary, defend your community
- Help members of your community succeed directly with your products and services.
- Help members of your community succeed indirectly by supporting other nonprofits that treat your community well or supporting nonprofits and causes that have a positive impact on your community.
If you’re interested in learning more about the impact that nonprofit organizations can have on the economy check out this article about the economic impact of nonprofits organizations.
What can your nonprofit do that will have the biggest positive impact on your environment? Possible answers include:
- Minimize your footprint. Research all of the ways you can minimize waste and maximize the use of renewable energy.
- If you sell physical products then you have a supply chain. Think about what you buy and who you buy it from:
- What do these businesses stand for?
- How do they treat their employees, customers, owners, community, and environment?
How to use ‘I Imagine’ to maximize your impact
‘I Imagine’ is a social network and platform for people that want to maximize their impact. It includes multiple free services that nonprofits can use to start and grow their nonprofit.
- Use the Lifewall to consider how your nonprofit impacts each Lifewall component of your employees and customers.
- Use the Canvas to make sure that you optimize your time and focus on the things that matter most.
- Place free listings on the Referral platform and Collaboration platform to start working with other social entrepreneurs and business owners. This will help you to grow your nonprofit in the shortest amount of time with the smallest amount of money and effort. The more social entrepreneurs succeed, the bigger our collective impact.
- Use the Causes platform to create a cause or promote a cause that matters to you.
- Contribute to the impact ratings of businesses and other organizations
It all comes down to this: Be clear about what you stand for in order to attract certain people and repel others.