The Two Essentials for Amplifying Impact: Interview with Sara Beggs of Exponent Philanthropy

Think impact assessment has to be costly, drawn out, or tedious? Think again. Sara Beggs, the mastermind behind the 10-minute impact assessment, recently spoke with us to share “the 10-minute impact assessment,” a simple tool to increase impact and identify behaviors where you can focus energy and grow.

As Senior Program Director at Exponent Philanthropy, an organization dedicated to empowering philanthropists to leverage their resources and amplify their impact, Sara has taken this assessment on the road, sharing it funders in LA and nationwide. Read on for highlights of our conversation!

Inspiration behind the ten-minute impact assessment

We all want evidence that our efforts to support positive social outcomes are effective, but impact can be intimidating. We at Blue Garnet believe there is a rigorous yet practical and approachable way to discuss impact, evaluate your behaviors, and improve. So does Sara:

Small funders that needed an accessible way to think about impact inspired us to develop the assessment. We brought together a 45-member working group to help us better understand what they were experiencing in the field, and we had a breakthrough when a member mentioned how useful a diagnostic tool could be.

Now, with the 10-minute Impact Assessment, funders can identify where they are on a simple spectrum (from “thinking about impact” to “planning for impact” to “amplifying impact”). Then, using the accompanying resources, they can identify opportunities and measure their improvement over time, to ultimately spur more impactful grantmaking.

We at Blue Garnet see Exponent Philanthropy’s assessment as a simple starting point for both staff and Board to catalyze conversations around impact.

Resources for organizations interested in evaluating their impact

Blue Garnet believes that evaluation can serve as a learning opportunity, helping an organization to move toward their intended impact, instead of retrospectively answering the question of whether we reached a target. Exponent Philanthropy encourages this mindset by providing resources to funders:

Once a foundation takes the assessment, they want to know is what to do next. So, we included tips, resources, and examples of how other foundations have improved, so that after competing the assessment, foundations are equipped to move the conversation forward and begin to make more intentional and effective decisions.

The assessment’s results

Understanding where your organization is at today is only the first step of the journey. How mini case-Swayne Foundationhave leaders used the assessment as a springboard for improvement? Sara shares:

The assessment engages decision-makers to contribute insightful ideas, empowering them to contribute and ask good questions to move the organization forward. After the assessment, they see impact as a journey where they will continuously learn, improve, and push the envelope by asking, “How can we do more?”

They use the assessment to create greater focus, and to understand steps they can take to make measurable progress toward their desired impact.

Where Exponent Philanthropy is taking it

Sara and Exponent Philanthropy aren’t resting on the success of the assessment—they too are on a journey to deepen their impact.

We’re excited to be developing an online version of the assessment. With this new iteration, organizations will quickly be able to analyze their results and benchmark to similar organizations.

We will continue to leverage the resources developed for the assessment, share stories about how organizations are moving along the impact spectrum, and help funders to start taking clear steps toward increased impact. The assessment prompts important conversations and mind shifts, which can have a profound impact on an organization’s grantmaking. Moving forward, we’re excited to help prime even more philanthropies for amplified impact.

The two essential things you can do to amplify their impact

  1. Be intentional. If you are not thoughtful about what your organization chooses to do (and not do), you may become so overwhelmed by the things you say yes to that you miss out on better aligned opportunities. Furthermore, deliberate decisions will help you to be more adaptive in this rapidly changing and complex environment.
  2. Bring all of your assets to the table. You may not realize that in additional to financial support, your thinking, influence, and bird’s eye view of the sector can prove extremely valuable to your grantees and your community. Think creatively and you’ll be surprised at what you can do!

To download the (free) 10-minute impact assessment, click here. For additional information about Exponent Philanthropy, check out their website or follow them on twitter, and for additional resources on impact, including our impact thinking briefing, check out Blue Garnet’s resource page.

by: Taylor Chamberlin

Set a vision, then make your individual goals “SMART-EST”

by: Giselle Timmerman and Taylor Chamberlin

business08It’s hard to believe, but we are already more than halfway through 2015. Are you coasting along with your New Year’s resolutions? Or, like over a third of all Americans, did you give up before the making it through January[1] (no judgment, we promise)? Regardless, we believe the principles of effective organizational goals apply to you as an individual, so we’d like to share some surefire strategies for setting and following through on your goals.

The research is clear: those who set effective goals are happier and more successful in their personal and professional lives. There are three key components to setting and achieving individual goals: developing a vision, establishing a plan, and committing to the journey. We’ll explore each of these components over the course of this summer but today, let’s tackle part one: developing a vision.

Visioning

Select a goal you want to accomplish. To make sure it is right for you right now, test it using the following three filters:

  1. Are you excited and motived to accomplish it? If your motivation is below a 7 on a 10-point scale, consider revising or selecting a different goal.
  2. Does this goal help you to be who you really want to be?
  3. Do you have the skills and resources to start making progress tomorrow? If your answer is not a solid “Yes!” then this is where the help of a coach can be extremely useful.

You may have heard of “SMART” goals, but to be exceptional, we recommend you make your goal the SMARTEST it can be:

Specific – Clear and detailed (e.g., call my sister weekly vs. have a better relationship with my sister).
Measurable –Criteria and tools to monitor progress (e.g., run a 5k by May vs. get more exercise).
Attainable – Achievable, but still challenging. Otherwise, this goal is nothing more than a wish or dream.
Realistic – Logical, given your time, money, resources, and skills.
Time-bound – Limited by a deadline, otherwise you may sow the seeds of procrastination.
Emotional – Triggers intrinsic motivation. Does the goal give you goose bumps when you think of achieving it?
Significant – Should contain words of special meaning. What is your “why”? Why would you regret not accomplishing your goal?
Toward – Invokes a growth mindset by focusing on how you can learn. A growth mindset means effort matters, making challenges or setbacks easier to deal with.

After running your goal through the three filters and making it “SMARTEST,” you should have something that is ready to polish. Goals that are vivid are more compelling and thus more likely to be achieved, so take ten minutes to detail what you are striving for. What does accomplishing this goal look like? Feel like? How would your life be different if you were doing this thing all of the time?

For example, if you’re excited, motivated, and ready to train for a triathlon, close your eyes and imagine crossing the finish line at the end of the race. Envision the crowds, imagine your tired muscles, and picture displaying your medal prominently at your house. Then write down your vivid and compelling vision, along with your succinct goal statement.

Once you have polished your goal into a meaningful statement (worthy of showcasing as a new your desktop background), you’ve completed part one! Let us know how you decided what your goals for 2015 are in the comments below.

[1] Franklin Covey Survey, 2008, n=15,031

Doing Good With Data

by: Sithu Thein Swe, June 1, 2015

As we enter into the thick of conference season, I want to share my recent experience at a pretty unique and relatively new conference: Do Good Data 2015.

In just its second year, the conference brought 600+ data geeks from across the country (and even other countries) to Chicago — quadrupling the size of its first conference. There were opportunities to connect with like-minded do-gooders, the keynote speakers were inspiring, and workshops helped build practical knowledge and skills. Topics covered included program development, data visualization, evaluation, marketing and fundraising, and even machine learning.

Having spent some time post-conference “digesting” and sharing learnings with the Blue Garnet team, here are the highlights from the conference that resonated most with me:

  1. Ned Breslin speaking honestly about Water for People’s progress and hiccups in their pursuit of impact
  2. Michael Weinstein sharing the Robin Hood Foundation’s rigorous monetization approach to grantmaking
  3. Dean Karlan discussing the role of randomized control trials in today’s social sector landscape

1. Fearless honesty as a nonprofit

It is easy for an organization to feature anecdotes of success and suggest they are representative of all the work they do (regardless of how accurate this may be). But how often do organizations call attention to failures and shortcomings as part of a commitment to transparency and improvement?

The latter approach takes courage and leadership, and is exemplified by Ned Breslin, CEO of Water for People. He spoke about the “fearless honesty” necessary to understanding progress (and hiccups) towards impact. Rigorous monitoring helps them to constantly learn what’s working, what isn’t, and how to improve. For them, this commitment to fearless honesty entailed developing open-source technology, setting expectations with staff that data and monitoring are everyone’s responsibility, engaging partners, and taking blame for failures. Ned has taken fearless honesty to the extreme by literally stripping down on YouTube to call attention to projects that weren’t working and their commitment to do better.

2. Fearless honesty as a funder

Michael Weinstein shared the Robin Hood Foundation’s approach to philanthropy, which has many parallels to the transparent, data-minded, and bold (yet humble) approach of Water for People. I was impressed to hear about the Foundation’s efforts not to overstate impact by considering counterfactuals and displacement effects to better determine “true impact.” At the end of the day, accountability for funders is usually self-imposed, and the Robin Hood Foundation seems to set the bar high for itself and practice what it preaches.

Naturally, this rigor applies to the Foundation’s funding strategy. They practice “rigorous monetization” to better understand costs and benefits of programs across sectors, and how these programs help the Foundation achieve its intended impact. Their cost/benefit assumptions and calculations are made public; for example, they’ve calculated that the poverty-alleviating benefit of a high school diploma is $120,000 in earnings and $90,000 in health benefits. Michael has admitted they are imperfect—but by making this information open to all, he hopes others can help them become “less wrong.”

Michael and the Robin Hood Foundation’s approach may not be for everyone, but the advice he shared should resonate with funders of all types: “Never, ever make grants on the basis of arithmetic alone.”

3. Measuring what matters with CART

Dean Karlan, a development economist who has helped push the thinking in this field (and greatly influenced my own worldview), was another keynote speaker that left quite an impression. His work exemplifies just how powerful, insightful, and critical randomized control trials can be, as illustrated by a recent study on learning how to help the world’s ultra-poor.

Even though he’s a leading expert in randomized control trials, he recognizes that they aren’t always appropriate. His talk focused on how organizations can build strong data practices and measure what matters most, regardless of organizational size. His suggested “CART” principles are a helpful way of thinking about right-sizing data collection. He suggests we ask: Is the data Credible? Actionable? Responsible? Transportable?

Rather than flesh out each of these CART components here, I’ll refer you to his SSIR blog post for more detail.

We need leaders at every level to support data-organizations

Finally, a theme that emerged across the conference was the critical role of leaders. An organization that embeds data into its DNA doesn’t have all the answers—rather, this practice guarantees that data will surface failures and shortcomings. But that’s what helps organizations understand what does work and what doesn’t.

Staff, executives, and Board leadership need to be comfortable with seeing “bad” information that can help guide improvements. As Ned Breslin noted, this emphasis will in turn attract a different type of individual (and donor) to the organization.

In wrapping up, I want to pose a question:

  • Nonprofit leaders—what can you do to promote a data-hungry, learning culture within your organization?
  • Leading funders—amidst an environment that incentivizes organizations to only show successes, what can funders do to support bold leaders trying to take this data-driven approach?

My strategic plan is done… now what?

by: Sithu Thein Swe, 4/29/15

Last month I had the opportunity to attend the California Charter School Association (CCSA) Annual Conference in Sacramento, and presented to a group of charter school leaders alongside our friends at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy. We had the privilege of supporting Camino’s strategic business planning a few years back, and it was rewarding to present with Dr. Ana Ponce and Atyani Howard as they shared how they’ve made their strategies real and ensured their plan is a living document.

I won’t pretend that this short post can do justice to the great insights, perspectives, and advice Ana and Atyani shared. Still, I wanted to quickly share a few highlights that stood out to me, on the hard work of implementing a strategic plan:

A strategic plan isn’t a silver bullet, it’s an anchor.
It’s important to note that a strategic plan doesn’t magically solve (or prevent) all challenges and issues. Rather, it serves as an anchor by helping institutionalize and codify the Camino model amidst tremendous growth. It eliminates wasted energy, keeps the organization focused on where it’s headed, and drives (and even simplifies) decision-making to focus on achieving the organization’s impact.

Continue to engage those stakeholders
Board members, teachers, community members, parents, and supporters helped inform Camino’s strategic direction, as the planning process focused on engaging the right people in the right ways. In implementing the plan, Camino continues to engage these key groups, for example through their “State of Camino” annual address to principals and staff, where they share updates on the organization’s direction, how things are going, and refinements that have been made.

Expect that things won’t go perfectly as planned, and adapt
We’ve discussed Emergent Strategy in a past post, and it simply means strategies change and evolve. You will inevitably have some unrealized strategies (let those go), but you will also have realized strategies (keep these going) and emergent strategies (seize these opportunities). What’s important is recognizing this reality, learning from what’s working and isn’t, and adapting, while still focused on long-term impact.

It takes investment, but it’s worth it
Even from the few highlights listed above, it’s clear that implementation requires a lot of hard work. It can’t all fall on one person, and the leadership team that drives this work needs the time and capacity to carry through with it. Proactively preparing during the planning process can help, and taking the time to develop key tools can go a long way towards supporting implementation (e.g. an implementation roadmap that is regularly updated; an Impact Formula framework (aka Theory of Change); a performance dashboard at the Board-level and management-level).

Camino’s hard work is paying off—they’re serving more students, growing to additional campuses, engaging the community in exciting ways (such as through La Caminata), and getting recognized for it; they received Charter School of the Year from the California Charter Schools Association (see press release here). To learn more about how you can execute your strategic plan using an implementation roadmap, check out this briefing and to learn more about making your strategic plan a living document, you can explore our resources page.

Effectively visualize your impact using these 6 principles

Through their masters course at Pepperdine, Way-Ting and Jenni are teaching social entrepreneurs to think about, measure, and evaluate their organizations' impact. I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a class session, which focused on data visualization.

By following these six principles, whether you are communicating about a foundation, nonprofit, or, in the case of this course, a budding social enterprise, you’ll be primed to effectively marry "the head and the heart" to communicate your value and tell your impact story.

Read more

The “Un-sexy” Work of Making Strategy Real

by Way-Ting Chen (December 19, 2014)

At heart, I am a strategist. I have a bit of a confession to make: over the course of years, I have witnessed it over and over again—in my years as a research analyst, a corporate management consultant, and now a social entrepreneur. But despite having the soul of a strategist, I have found what I am about to share with you to be undeniably true.

Strategy matters. It matters a lot. Strategy that bridges aspiration with a grounding in what it takes to make that strategy happen is the most effective of all. But here’s the secret that “strategy consultants” don’t always tell you: strategy means nothing if you can’t make it real. How you do something will define success for what it is you set out to do. In the end, implementation trumps strategy every time.

But do not fear, my strategy-minded friends. Implementation planning (i.e. pacing and calibration of how to achieve your strategy) builds the bridge between what you’ll do and how you’ll do it, but its power goes beyond articulating how you are going to make your strategy real. If done as part of a thorough strategic planning process, it can help inform the strategy too. It’s not linear; rather, it is an iterative conversation. And it makes what you’re trying to do more likely to come true.

Think of it this way: it starts with the planning. Implementation happens in one form or another whether or not we plan intentionally for it, and I’ve seen my fill of “strategic plans” that define the what (e.g., strategy) without any reference to the how (sustaining the business model, organizational implications, implementation roadmap, etc.).

One of the leading strategy firms in the world, McKinsey, wrote about implementation of corporate strategy, but I believe it applies to the field of social impact as well: “good implementers retain more value at every stage of the process than poor implementers do, and the[ir] impact is significant.”

To be clear, I’m not advocating for implementation without strategy. Nor am I advocating for implementation planning without strategic planning. That would be like trying to map directions without knowing where it is you’re trying to go.

What I believe in is defining strategy in tandem with an implementation roadmap. Let strategy frame implementation, and let implementation ground strategy. When this intentionally and methodically occurs during the planning process, you get increased organizational clarity, healthier economics to sustain your organization, and greater accountability to drive results.

Check out McKinsey’s article to learn more about their findings regarding what sustains strategy throughout implementation. We want to know: what has been your experience with implementation and planning for implementation? How much have you invested in implementation planning has it related to your organization’s strategy? Tell us in the comments section or by emailing hello@bluegarnet.net!

Impact Thinking: How Does Your Organization Compare?

by Jennifer Shen (11/26/14)

Thank you all for the incredible response to part one of our Impact Thinking brief!  Some say this paper has made them think about impact amidst rapid growth, others have used it to launch discussions of overall organizational effectiveness. We are thrilled to have ignited a conversation around the critical mindset we call “impact thinking.”

Impact thinking is an organization’s longer-term, holistic view of achieving its desired social impact. It is characterized by continuous learning and accountability practices that deliberately, doggedly, and effectively measure performance against intended impact. In part one of this briefing, we explain why impact thinking can be challenging and examine some common misconceptions.

Your feedback got us wondering: where are others on the path to impact thinking? Let us know where you or your organization falls, and see where your peers rated themselves by participating in the poll below!

[polldaddy poll=8459046]

 

We know you’re excited to read part two of the briefing (we are too!), so we will be publishing it in mid-December. In part two, we’ll share how you can get “un-stuck” from limiting practices and become an impact thinker, some of the benefits you can expect, and leading examples of impact thinking in the sector. Stay tuned!

To Change or Not to Change (your strategic plan, that is)

Shannon Johnson (11/14/14)

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans.” -Woody Allen

Our clients have hags…BHAGs that is (also known as big, hairy audacious goals). You have to if you are working to solve complex social problems. While Woody Allen’s quote is good for a laugh, we definitely do not think that planning is futile. We fundamentally believe that organizations need to have strategic plans to achieve their BHAGs. We’ll take the liberty to translate Mr. Allen’s quote to “The best plans will (and should) adapt over time.” I know, not quite as funny.

We were excited to see that the folks at Stanford Social Innovation Review (SSIR) shared the same view in a recent article and webinar “Strategic Philanthropy in a Complex World.”  SSIR did a great job of explaining (and visualizing) the concept of emergent strategies. The concept is this:

  1. You start with your strategic plan to accomplish your BHAG (intended strategies)
  2. Some of those plans don’t pan out (unrealized strategies) – let’s drop those
  3. Fortunately, some plans do work (deliberate strategies) – of course, we’ll keep these
  4. Hopefully we’re learning along the way, and new ideas and opportunities arise (emergent strategies). Now, what to do with these? As Lloyd Christmas says in Dumb and Dumber, “We don’t usually pick up hitchhikers. But I’m-a gonna go with my instincts on this one. Saddle up, partner!

Features_upfordebate2

The SSIR language may be a bit formal, but the concept is simple: Start with your best thinking at the time, figure out what’s working, and adapt your plans with new strategies as they come. The concept of emergent strategies is freeing. You do not have to have it all figured out when you set out to create a strategic plan. Emergent strategy gives you permission to be “strategically opportunistic” and take advantage of new opportunities with confidence. And confidence looks great on you, by the way.

A charter school client of ours appreciated the nuance of being “strategically opportunistic.” Despite the constant flux of California’s education climate (due to frequent political and funding shifts), our client set a strategic direction with its staff and board leaders. They created a coherent vision for impact, prioritized specific investments and strategies, and considered various financial scenarios. Recently, this client had to let some unrealized strategies go. But by remaining flexible, they have stayed focused on achieving their overall goal of equipping students for college success.

Tell us: have you had to let go of an “unrealized strategy” recently? When did you know it was time to let it go? Have you had the opportunity to take advantage of an “emergent strategy”? Let us know in the comments section, or email us at hello@bluegarnet.net to share your thoughts!

 

The Inside Scoop on Strengths-Based Performance

by: Giselle Nicholson (10/16/14)

“Tell me about your strengths.” We are all familiar with this often-dreaded interview question. Even if you happen to avoid it in an interview, any complete performance review will force you to confront this question and discuss your strengths.

But why? Do your strengths really matter? Is it even possible to self-assess your strengths? Empirical research answers with an unequivocal YES. As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Masters of Applied Positive Psychology program, I’ve followed this research for eight years. I find three themes from the research to be highly relevant to leadership development efforts: 1) The ability of leaders to leverage strengths is critical. Awareness of how skills match strengths and how to leverage strengths as motivators provides high return on effort. 2) Skills are important, but approaching your tasks by capitalizing on your strengths will get you further. 3) High performing teams focus on developing positive relationships, positive communication, and a positive work climate — matching strengths with goals fuels this positivity and performance.

So why do so many of us fall short in applying our strengths? Because knowing your strengths is not the same as using them. When taking a strengths assessment, most of us briefly reflect then think we’re done. We don’t put our strengths to work, so we never reap the rewards of deliberate, ongoing action. To help you move beyond the threshold between self-awareness and action, here is an overview of a strengths-based, ongoing team development activity we’re doing at Blue Garnet.

First, a little background: we have been experimenting with and learning from a variety of strengths tools since 2008 (half our company’s lifetime). As a professional services firm, we need exceptional talent to provide exceptional services, so we take individual and team development very seriously. We began by testing two tools: the Values in Action character strengths assessment and Gallup’s StrengthsFinder. We use these resources for hiring, for team building, and with clients for coaching, strategy retreats, leadership development workshops, culture assessments, etc.

Recently, we dug into our collective strengths to better understand how our individual roles sustain a culture of learning and growth. We believe that shared leadership and collaborative learning (one of Blue Garnet’s values) are linchpins to sustaining a positive firm culture – so off we went!

Instead of revisiting our results from Gallup’s StrengthsFinder, we experimented with Marcus Buckingham’s StandOut assessment. StrengthsFinder identifies your top five talent themes, whereas StandOut identifies two primary roles that will make you most effective at work. Buckingham helped develop StrengthsFinder and his StandOut tool lists predictive “talents” for your two roles, many of which are similar to the StrengthsFinder talents. We appreciated this overlap and used Buckingham’s new tool to build on our previous learnings.

After individual StandOut assessments, our team gathered for three “workouts.” We use the term workout to emphasize that these assessments aren’t prescriptive; they require us to identify, discuss, and work out what these strengths and roles mean, individually and as a team.

  • Workout #1: Strengths Refresher. First, we discussed our strengths-based philosophy and reviewed how we apply positive leadership practices to our work. Then, we went over the StandOut tool and discussed our individual roles, what our commonalities are, and where we differ. Our “homework” was to use two worksheets throughout the next few weeks as practical, energizing ways to deepen our individual understanding of our strengths and roles in action.
  • Workout #2: Team Mapping. Using a visual map of our roles and strengths, we had a reflective conversation on questions such as: Where do our roles and strengths intersect? Where do we balance each other out? Are there gaps on our team? How does our unique mix of strengths factor into our culture and the “feel” of everyday team life? As homework, we gave 360º feedback to every team member on what contributions we value and what we need from each other, looking forward, to achieve positive deviance in performance.
  • Workout #3: 360º Feedback. We each shared our thoughts on the (confidential) feedback we received, leading to a rich conversation about our roles and team contributions. Then, we shared examples from the feedback where we observed our firm values in action. We learned what our values mean to each team member, where we have alignment and strong evidence of values in action, and which values may be underdeveloped or difficult to put into action. Each individual then crafted commitment statements, which are critical for taking action, fostering positive energy, and enabling successful growth for our team.

Positive, strengths-based leadership has demonstrated improvement for many organizational outcomes, such as profitability, productivity, quality, innovation, customer loyalty, and employee engagement. There are a variety of assessments and tools to choose from, but I’ll let you in on a secret – the tool you use is far less important than what you do with it. It’s all about execution and making your learnings stick.

sample organizational strengths tree

sample organizational strengths tree

For our clients, strengths-based tools and techniques have been instrumental in facilitating complex organization-wide conversations, improving talent development practices, managing culture change, and growing well (see a sample strengths tree to the left). For our team, continuous strengths-based learning improves our communication and the way we work together, encourages ongoing professional development, and serves as a lens for how we approach tough questions and solutions. As a ‘learner’ strong in ‘futuristic’ and ‘maximizer’ strengths, I confidently believe these exercises drive our team’s excellence.

We hope you enjoyed this peek into one of Blue Garnet’s ongoing firm development practices. Please let us know which strengths development tools you find most useful, and what has worked best for building your team’s culture. And of course if you have any questions, email us at hello@bluegarnet.net!

 

 

 

 

Ditch Your Mission Statement

by: Jennifer Shen (9/24/2014)

Woah, woah, woah. We don’t want you to incur the wrath of the IRS, but most mission statements are simply not enough to drive high performance and guide you to your intended impact.

A useful, high-quality mission statement “focuses the organization on action. It creates a disciplined organization.”[1] It “sets out the reason for the organization’s existence and drives programs and services, operational goals, and day-to-day activities.”[2] But because most mission statements are also used for legal purposes, marketing, and promotions, they usually end up as an inspiring catchphrase on a t-shirt, not a clarifying statement of the organization’s purpose or ultimate impact.

Alternatively, mission statements are also often created by a committee to offend no one—in other words, designed to be broad, wordy, and practically meaningless. For example, can you guess whose mission statement this is?

We will strive to integrate virtual educational opportunities in order to competently operationalize impact to the highest standards.

In truth, it was created by the Mission Statement Generator, which recombines nouns, verbs, and adjectives into prototypical and jargon-filled mission statements. Admit it: for just a second, you thought it was real.

Sample Impact Statement

So, if a mission statement isn’t a true “North Star” and doesn’t provide the guidance you need for making tough decisions, what’s a leader and strategic thinker to do? We at Blue Garnet believe an Impact Statement is the best tool to create focus, drive clarity, and help you to become a high performing organization. An Impact Statement defines in one sentence how the world is different in ten years because of your organization. It includes a scale, timeframe, unit of change, and clear impact, to drive operations and galvanize action. The best Impact Statements incorporate a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) and answer the question “so what?” for your organization.

Are you ready to “ditch your mission statement” and take accountability for results to a new level with an Impact Statement?

[1] Light, Mark. Results Now for Nonprofits: Purpose, Strategy, Operations, and Governance. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.

[2] O’Connor, Judith. The Planning Committee: Shaping Your Organization’s Future. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Nonprofit Boards, 1997. Print.