10 Things to Look for in an Effective Nonprofit

There are many nonprofit organizations doing amazing work in our communities. How can you decide which to support? Here are 10 things you may want to consider when researching and evaluating where to direct your charitable giving.

  1. Clear mission
    The mission should articulate what the organization seeks to accomplish and why its purpose is important.
  2. Effective programming
    Effective programs are clear and sustainable, and they exist to achieve the organization’s stated mission.
  3. Ongoing evaluation
    Does the organization measure results and outcomes? Is there a process in place for making program revisions?
  4. Strong leadership
    Look for diversity of skills, education, training and experience in leadership and staffing. Racial and ethnic diversity in leadership correlates with diverse staff and programs that serve diverse populations.
  5. Financial transparency
    Current financial information such as the IRS Form 990, annual financial statements, budgets and fundraising goals should be easily accessible. These are often on the organization’s website.
  6. Recent impact
    Annual reports highlight a nonprofit’s impact and accomplishments over the past year and are often published on an organization’s website.
  7. Board and governance
    Strong boards have regular meetings, term limits, written responsibilities and conflict policies. Does the board membership reflect the skills needed to oversee a successful organization?
  8. Strategic planning
    A strategic plan should be in place and used. Strategic planning goals should be measured by staff and board through periodic assessments. Recognize that grassroots and volunteer-run organizations may not have the capacity to create a formal strategic plan.
  9. Community partnerships
    The most effective nonprofits have collaborative relationships with other organizations in the community. By working together toward common goals, pooling resources and implementing services and procedures, these partnerships achieve maximum impact.
  10. Stakeholder engagement
    Effective organizations involve, inspire, inform and seek feedback from all constituents, including donors, volunteers, staff and the clients they serve.

Source: FFTC’s Center for Personal Philanthropy’s Strategic Giving Guidebook

Rebekah Allison serves as VP, Center for Personal Philanthropy, at FFTC. Dedicated to serving client needs, she assists individuals and families with current giving strategies, grantmaking and legacy and succession planning.