America's Charities Annual Report - page 11

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overwhelming to charities whose effectiveness, just
a few years ago, was measured in great part by the
amount they did or did not spend on “overhead” and
their ability to tell an emotional story.
The age of increased expectations has arrived in force
and will continue to evolve rapidly over the next few
years. America’s Charities stands at the intersection of
key stakeholders who will soon, if they are not already,
begin feeling the effect of this new age.
In response to and in anticipation of these emerging
and changing expectations, America’s Charities is
launching new programs and services designed
to help our key stakeholders understand the new
environment, what it means to them, how they can
leverage and benefit from these new expectations and
the consequences ignoring them.
The Language of Effectiveness
One of the biggest problems in this discussion is
semantics. The language used to discuss these
increased expectations is complex, sometimes
contradictory, and not without controversy. While
I think most nonprofit professionals agree that the
emergence of business practices in the nonprofit
sector has resulted in more effectiveness and better
overall management, concerns remain that if charitable
organizations become too much like for-profits they will
lose their soul and mission orientation.
What reasonable people are talking about is not a
new expectation that charities operate under the same
set of assumptions and practices as a for-profit entity.
First, it is impossible because as we know charities
don’t have access to the capital and resources that
business does. Second, and importantly, charities
have a purely social mission while business have both
a profit-motive and social mission (at least more and
more and realizing that is their new expectation).
But in the rush to more effective outcomes, those in
the charitable sector are fretting over the language
used to describe what I believe to be a simple truth
— that charities are going to have to up their game
and show they are on a path to meet these new
expectations. In that pursuit let’s not get too caught up
in the words we use to get there. Having said that, the
lexicon that’s evolved to describe the new expectations
includes:
Evidence-Based Philanthropy
High Impact Giving
Outputs Versus Outcomes
Managing to Outcomes
Social Innovation
All of these and other words and terms point to the fact
that charitable organizations in order to survive and
thrive in this new era, are going to have to work harder,
smarter, faster, better and in greater collaboration with
others.
Let’s look at this from the vantage point of each of our
primary stakeholders.
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