The Commitments for High-Impact Nonprofit Organizations, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities framework for achieving lasting, meaningful change with children, families, and communities, addresses the practices and approaches that contribute to impact in three major ways. The Commitments address:
- Who guides the organization to achieve impact
- What the organization does to achieve impact
- How the organization achieves impact
The foundational navigator Commitments address models that shape the priorities of those who guide the organization to achieve impact.
They assert that nonprofit organizations cannot afford to rely on leadership styles and governance models that worked in the past. The leadership and governance of nonprofits have gotten tougher because of:
- Bigger and more complex organizations created through mergers and acquisition
- More complicated investment, contracting, and resource development environment
- Increased speed and volume of information and data
- Scientific advancements in neurosciences and technology
- Greater uncertainty about the economic and political future
- Less formal, more adaptable, and nimble coalitions, networks, and organic organizations
Increasing global, transnational migration, economic and political interdependence, and multinational alliances for progress. Therefore, if they are to succeed in this time of uncertain social, economic, political, and technological climates, leaders cannot focus solely on the mechanics of management and boards of directors cannot focus solely on operational issues.
Leaders at all levels and boards of directors must boldly and strategically work to position their organizations to take advantage of future opportunities, whether known or unknown. As the organization’s chief navigators, they must anticipate change before it happens and consider the long-term future, continuously evaluating the operating environment.
Navigators also are among the organization’s most vocal champions and advocates. They make sure the well-being and aspirations of the community are in sync with the impact and value of the organization.
Strategic Organizational Commitments
The intermediate strategic organizational Commitments address what positions the organization to have impact.
These Commitments recognize that the opportunities and challenges people and communities face are highly complex. Solutions and strategies to seize these opportunities and address these challenges have been elusive because:
- There is no consensus about the root causes
- The interconnected challenges span across systems, time, and geography
- There is disagreement about the scope of solutions
There is growing recognition that challenges and opportunities are more complex than any one organization—no matter how large or sophisticated—can address on its own. Yet, organizations must remain diligent and hopeful because the available organizational and community assets are equally multifaceted.
To gain traction on these interconnected issues, organizations should maintain their own focus by aligning all strategies, operations, and metrics to their individual missions and building networks with diverse organizations that have similar and complementary values, goals, and strategies.
They also continually and strategically invest in their capacity and improve their operating systems and business functions. They generate and direct unrestricted revenue to areas that are likely to produce the biggest future gains for the organization and impact for society.
Cultural and Values Commitments
A set of leaders, strategies, and operations alone will not translate to high impact. These cultural and values Commitments articulate how the nonprofit achieves impact. These Commitments represent the uniqueness and differentiating value of the nonprofit sector.
High-impact organizations operate under a values orientation through which they understand that they are advocates first and service providers second.Performance without advocacy is efficiency, notimpact.
Their advocacy responsibility, whether for the individual, the family, the neighborhood, or the nation overall, must always take precedence. They continually respond in ways that reflect what the children, adults, families, and communities with whom they work identify as necessary and important for success in their own lives.
Staff of high-impact organizations are also led by their values of inclusion and equity. They create and embed multiple avenues for feedback to ensure that every voice is heard and has influence. Further, organizations address poverty alongside race, class, gender, and access to opportunity and break down barriers that limit the fullest participation of all individuals in society.