Steve Delfin | March 4, 2014

Nonprofit Performance & Effectiveness Are Not Mutually Exclusive

This week The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article by Phil Buchanan, President of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, called, “Unlike For-Profits, Nonprofits Succeed by Sharing the Work and the Glory”.  Similar in nature to my CSRwire blog post about “Creating Performance Based Culture in the Nonprofit Sector”, Buchanan’s article helped me reconcile some philosophical conundrums I have been having in the discussion about performance vs. mission.

As Buchanan noted in his article, “the focus on impact, outcomes, and assessment, while not new, has certainly intensified among charity leaders”.  He points out that while focusing on unique positioning, branding and outperforming each other works in the business world, it’s not particularly conducive for nonprofits.  Buchanan suggests that rather than focusing on individual institutional strategies and uniqueness we are better served through a more collaborative approach.

Collaboration is Key for the Social Sector’s Success

Through multi-organization alliances and keeping the focus on mission (not profit or insular institutional concerns), we can better identify, scale and sustain the programs and services that have a significant impact.  Plus, it is going to take a cross-sector collaborative effort to meet the most vital human care and social responsibility needs as public sector resources become more scarce.

Buchanan’s article brings a valuable perspective to the discussion on nonprofit performance vs. mission.  And the significance of this discussion is to continue the discourse in a way that is consistent with the nonprofit sector’s values around mission, collaboration, and addressing imperative social issues.  And as Buchanan stated (in his response to my comment on his article), “in our sector, that means looking beyond our organizational boundaries.”

>> Read Phil Buchanan’s article

Steve Delfin

Steve's BlogSteve has 30 years of experience working in and with major national and international not-for-profit organizations and socially-responsible international corporations, including a long history of engagement with and leadership around workplace giving and employee volunteerism programs. 


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