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A Contest to Help Your Nonprofit Manage to Outcomes

By Nell Edgington

I’m excited to announce something a little different on the Social Velocity blog: a contest! Mario Morino, author of one of my favorite new books, Leap of Reason: Managing to Outcomes in an Era of Scarcity, has generously offered to give away a Leap of Reason board package to three lucky nonprofit readers of the Social Velocity blog. You can read my past review of the book and why I like it so much here and my past interview with Mario here.

The Leap of Reason board package will include a copy of the book for each board member and other supplemental materials to get the board discussing how to manage toward outcomes. If you would like to be entered into the contest, simply respond in the comments with a brief (1-3 sentence) description of why you think your nonprofit is ready to start managing toward outcomes.

In Leap of Reason, Morino, co-founder of Venture Philanthropy Partners, argues that every nonprofit MUST, if it wants to survive in this new environment of “brutal austerity,” create a culture of performance. Many nonprofit organizations simply exist to “do good work.” But that is just not enough anymore. It’s not enough for those that fund the work, and it’s not enough for those who receive the services. Nonprofits must determine what they exist to change and whether they are actually creating those changes. Mario is ever-mindful, however, that large scale evaluation projects are simply unrealistic for the vast majority of nonprofits. They don’t have the money or time to devote to such projects. He and other experts in the book provide key initial steps and case studies to encourage nonprofits to develop their own ways to manage to outcomes.

So, if you think your nonprofit is ready to start managing to outcomes, and you’d like the Leap of Reason board package to help you along, respond in the comments with a short (1-3 sentence) explanation of why you think your nonprofit is ready.

I will then pick three winners. Each nonprofit winner will receive:

  • A Leap of Reason book for each board member
  • A Leap of Reason User Guide for each board member
  • A Leap of Reason Supplemental Reading Packet for each board member
  • A Leap of Reason Board Package Overview (a how-to guide for the executive director or board chair leading this process)

Good luck!

Update on February 21, 2012: The response to this contest was so great that Mario Morino graciously agreed to increase the number of winners to 20. Those 20 nonprofit winners have all been notified with the specifics about how to claim their Leap of Reason board packets. Thank you so much to everyone who participated! And I look forward to future Social Velocity blog contests!


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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (, a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.

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27 Comments to A Contest to Help Your Nonprofit Manage to Outcomes

Meg Erskine
February 17, 2012

Multicultural Refugee Coalition is going through outcomes discussions right now with our board. We are at the perfect place for this discussion after having 2.5 years of initial programs and now seeking the funding to sustain us and we know this has to be based on outcomes. I was at the Alamo Drafthouse session on outcomes the other day where this book was reccommended. We would love to receive this package to aid our efforts for outcome measurements that have already just begun.

Laura Stone
February 17, 2012

LightHawk is a 33-year-old conservation organization that donates flights in small planes to over 250 partner organizations throughout North and Central America. The aerial perspective helps advance conservation on the ground through data collection, aerial photography and educational tours. LightHawk is updating our strategic vision and the thing we struggle with most is how to measure our outcomes because we’re a collaborative organization that works in support of the conservation projects of hundreds of other groups.

Paula F. Sciuk
February 17, 2012

Working at a non-profit with a non-fudiciary board, our challenges can be daunting at times.
Our success is not based solely on financial success but in raising awareness, preventing cancer and saving lives through research, education, advocacy and service.
We are in the process of transformation and transforming how we do business as a national organization.
The themes within Leap of Reason seem to resonate with our current state of change!

February 17, 2012

The Young Nonprofit Professionals Network (YNPN) is a volunteer-led nationwide movement celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. YNPN promotes an efficient, viable, and inclusive nonprofit sector that supports the growth, learning, and development of young professionals. We were recognized by as one of ten nonprofits to watch in 2012. San Francisco Bay Area (YNPNsfba) is the founding chapter and in August will host the YNPN National Leaders Conference in collaboration with CompassPoint’s Nonprofit Day. As a volunteer-only organization, YNPNsfba is very much a learn-by-doing experience. Our board would appreciate this package very much, as most of us are first time board members also learning on the job. Thank you for the opportunity!

Oliver Miller
February 17, 2012

Founded in 2009, Depaul USA already boasts an impressive track record of moving 80% of our formerly homeless residents to stable housing with employment and around $700 in savings. While this is a strong outcome, we are 3 years old now and ready to assess larger and potentially far more impactful outcomes such as the long-term employment and housing rates of former residents. As we attempt to scale up our successful model, we must have more quantitative evidence showing our impact, and we are at a unique place in our growth to build effective outcome measurement into our programs in a lasting manner.

George Landau
February 17, 2012

As a Charter and Board Member of my Tiburon/Belvedere, California, Rotary International Club I have, for over 30 years, been involved with fundraising both for our Club and advising Nonprofit groups as well.

My ‘tag line’ is: “We Have More Than Money To Give” because as part of what I do is advise Nonprofits through my Business Resource Institute on how to have a ‘business approach’ to running a Nonprofit.

If I am one of the ‘winners’ I can assure you that the book and the supplementary material will have a wide distribution which will benefit all concerned.

Gary Sweeten
February 17, 2012

We (Sweeten Life Systems) are ready because we have just completed a year’s research to get what parent’s of special needs kids need to help them become healthier, happier families and we have responded by developing assessments for compassionate organizations to use to facilitate specific responses they can offer to an individual family.

Jill Webb
February 17, 2012

I work for a non profit that provides employment for disabled adults in meaningful careers. We are always looking got new and innovative ways to make this mission possible. I would love to find a new outlook for an industry that is often overlooked.

Mark Berger
February 17, 2012

We’re a social enterprise with a 501c3 tax status. Our mission is “Successfully Creating Win-Win Partnerships between San Diego Businesses and Adults with Disabilities Who Want to Work.” Our staff is lean, our board creative and energetic. We’ve benefit from the package to help guide us towards performance tracking for our board, volunteers, staff and clients.

Thanks for your consideration.

Rocky Balsamo
February 17, 2012

I was recently named board chair at the Center For Faith Justice, Catholic 501(c)3. Our mission: The Center for FaithJustice provides transformative experiences of faith in action, builds community, serves those in need, educates for justice, and empowers people to change the world.

We are independent and therefore not directly connected to any one Catholic Diocese. The nature of our independence places us in extremely unique situation in terms of development. We receive no significant funding directly from the Catholic Church, and by the same token, it has been challenging to get support from secular society even though our volunteers serve “ALL” regardless of race, creed, color, etc.

The good news is that our board is very involved, we have some cash reserves, and our programs keep growing. This past year alone, we provided over 20,000 hrs of community service. Unfortunately, strategic planning has been temporarily put on hold while we work on short-term development goals.

Holly Vanture
February 17, 2012

Downtown South is three year old 501c3 organization whose mission is economic revitalization of our neighborhood business district. We are following the Main Street program and use work plans annually but I wonder if this process is truly moving us in the direction of managing to outcomes. Creating and achieving manageable goals and outcomes for our area is very important to ensure long-term revitalization. Our Board made up of property owners, residents, and shop owners is excited about this opportunity.

Leon Mills
February 17, 2012

As an association that supports people with hearing loss, we have had impressive growth in all areas, and are working toward becoming a better high performance leader in our field than we already are. We are working on an Social Return on Investment Project, our fourth Strategic Plan (with a proactive focus), the development of a Business Plan (to move beyond simple fundraising to financing our association)and a formal Communications Plan (with a new website soon). Leap to Reason will help us to blend it all into a cohesive whole. Thanks!

Nell, warm greetings from the Bay Area.
We at the Berkeley Food and Housing Project enthusiastically welcome this opportunity.
BFHP has been leading the fight to end chronic hunger and homelessness for more than forty years. An established East Bay service provider, we operate a diverse portfolio of shelter, nutrition, and capacity-building programs.
The Leap of Reason curriculum would galvanize our board’s work in these dynamic, challenging times. The twinned emphases you describe so well – outcomes imperatives, coupled with austerity trends in public support – greatly inform our board’s stewardship, now more than ever.
Thanks again for this kind invitation – we’d highly value the chance to partner with you.

Kristen Senters
February 17, 2012

The Flint and Saginaw Odyssey Houses have provided treatment for Substance Use Disorders and Mental Health in the state of Michigan for nearly 3 decades. Rising to the challenge of meeting multiple changes and rapid expansion of services has left the entire organization feeling exilerated and somewhat scattered.

The Leap of Reason curriculum would help our organization refocus and develop outcomes based on our mission and values rahter than limiting ourselves to the requirements developed by external forces.

Keith Laidler
February 18, 2012

PET MI-Holland, organized in Nov. ’08, rec’d 501c3 in early ’09 becoming the 16th Affiliate of PET International. We make the child size tricycle wheelchair, hand cranked, sturdily built, colorfully painted, to be given free to leg handicapped children in developing countries.
The fund/finance raising has become a major concern and surely would be helped by “The Leap of Reason.” I’d like to read the book NOW. Can I download it to my Kindle?

Jim Morris
February 18, 2012

Nell, hello from the Midwest.
As of this year, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Indianapolis has been serving for 25 years to provide safe, decent affordable home ownership opportunities to low income individuals and families. As the CEO, I have recognized that we have been measuring outputs (# of homes provided), not outcomes of those home ownership opportunities. We are using our 25th to reveal where we need to pursue our mission going forward and having read Leap of Reason, I am leading us to transition our approach to an outcomes-based method. We engaged the Indiana University Public Policy Institute to conduct an impact study to give us our first baseline data to work from and we would welcome the opportunity to continue to make the transition to outcomes, especially by galvanizing our board through your offer.

Janel Donohue
February 18, 2012

Rappahannock United Way is on a journey to transform our work from funding agencies to funding Programs that make long lasting changes and get to the root of problems in our community. We do not want to simply transform our agency’s focus to measuring outcomes but we want to empower the non profit agencies in our community to measure meaningful outcomes as well. We are committed to this transformation and our board is positioned for action.

Paul Olatunde
February 18, 2012

New initiative for social development has been touching lives most especially women and children.

Gwen Griffiths
February 18, 2012

As our board and organization struggles to adapt to today’s model and transition from a 30-year-old model, we need to learn to look not at past successes but at future possibilities and goals. We are trying to learn to adapt to today’s needs and strategies instead of trying to recreate triumphs from before.

Jerry North
February 19, 2012

We recently began a Ex-Offender Reentry Initiative and I believe managing of outcomes will make or break our Board and agency efforts. We need your assistance and guidance. Please help us succeed.

Stuart White
February 20, 2012

Tomorrow, I join Congaree Land Trust as Executive Director. The opportunity and challenges that I will face include a significant shift in financial strategy for the organization. The leadership of CLT has done a great job delivering on it’s mission and creating a solid foundation to build upon. Leap to Reason may just be the tool that I am looking for to help focus our efforts and drive the continued success through the cohesive work of our board members.

February 20, 2012

We are a brand new organization working to save children from sexual exploitation. We would like to start off on the right foot with powerful information to make an significant impact.

Carey Palmquist
February 21, 2012

Operation Warm has been providing brand new coats to U.S. children in need since 1998. No longer is it enough to say that a coat is the impetus for getting children to school. We are increasingly challenged by funders who see Operation Warm as a charity, and not a philanthropy, asking, “Do you get at the root cause of poverty?” Managing to outcomes is critical to our success as more and more children are suffering the ravages of poverty. We certainly know the outcomes of providing a new, warm winter coat to children in need, and are challenged to inform our donors of the value of our gift. I would love some creative solutions and help in communicating how our coat is the hand-up a child needs to not only survive, but thrive. Thank you!

Richard Uniacke
February 21, 2012

Community FoodBank of New Jersey is the state’s largest distributor of donated food and groceries – and does much more to fight poverty and associated symptoms than feeding our hungry neighbors. In a world of increasing scarcity, transparency and expected ROI; the FoodBank is challenged to find new ways of measuring its impact and setting its expectations. There a far too many hungry New Jerseyans not to. Thanks!

Elena Quevedo
February 21, 2012

I would like to enter my organization’s name for this contest. I would like to read Mr. Morino’s book because we have been struggling on how to vitalize our board and translate their resources into increased fundraising. We have an unusually large board, 62 members, of which I would characterize 27 members as being very active; 23 as being somewhat active; and 13 as being not active at all. The average age of those in the very active and somewhat active groups is around 65-70 years old, and most of them have been in service for a very long time. While we all recognize that times have changed, I for one would like to learn skills and tools to communicate and teach our board how to be key players in the fundraising planning, execution and ultimate yield from fiscal year to fiscal year.

Carrie Harnish
February 22, 2012

The Area Agency on Aging 1-B has been working closely with other aging service providers to truly demonstrate the outcomes of our programs, not just the outputs. We are using it for the purpose of influencing state policies and funds. We’ve started very small with research on the outcomes of Home Delivered Meals, but now we need more understanding and buy-in of the entire staff and the board. Your board packet would be a great resource! Keep up the great work!

Emma Wendt
March 6, 2012

The Washtenaw Bicycling and Walking Coalition has been working for more than a decade to improve facilities, policy and community support for bicyclists and pedestrians. This year, though, we’re focusing on improving our organizational effectiveness. In 2012, we passed our first 5-year strategic plan, and all of our tasks include metrics like miles of sidewalks and bike lanes added, and % of people taking trips by bike. We could benefit enormously from your board package!

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