Salesforce Won’t Save You from Your Lack of Clarity

Dec 22, 2021 | Nonprofits

Is the work of a nonprofit program executive this scary?

I asked GPT to give me some images illustrating the whack-a-mole program leaders play in nonprofits. Unclear whether my prompt encouraged this or if leading nonprofit is just this frantic to AI.

Be honest, have you ever felt like this is your workday, or maybe work years?

Let’s talk about this mess we’ve all faced. You know what I mean:

  • Siloed data
  • Invisible outcomes hiding across your organization
  • Tools and spreadsheets multiply like rabbits
  • The never-ending task coordination

This constant state of stress without meaningful progress sucks the joy out of our work.

You won’t solve these issues with a shiny new technology (alone).

Increasing your impact begins with something far more profound – a clear, measurable Theory of Change that empowers your teams to take charge of their impact. And yes, developing this takes intention and awareness, but It’s not rocket science.

Here are three core steps:

Step 1: The 10-Word Organizational Goal

First things first, what’s your organization’s purpose in terms of what you’re acheiving with, or for, your clients? Sum it up in less than 10 words. If you can’t do that, you’ve got some soul-searching to do. You need this clear, concise North Star.


Step 2: Step down to each program team

Break the goal down to each program where every team has its own 10-word goal that contributes to the big picture. None of that vague “improve lives” stuff – get specific!


Step 3: Metrics That Matter

Prepare your numbers and evaluation tools. Yes, some impact is nuanced and tough to measure, but that does not mean we can’t measure enough to give our teams a clear definition of success. Figure out the metrics for each program that tie into your overall goals. How do they fold up? What’s the impact equation here?

Defining measurable mission in these steps might sound simple, but they require nuance, collaboration, and alignment. When you get them right, something magical happens. Teams feel like they have autonomy and mastery over their outcomes, and managers can lead with vision instead of drowning in a sea of reactive chaos.

A fully integrated program system will change your world

If you’ve done the work above

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Can’t I just buy a system for this?” A good system will help, but attempting to build a fully integrated impact approach, system, and process without at least some clarity will just create more tasks you have to react against.

Tools like Salesforce will help tremendously, but they are there to support your clarity of mission, not to create it.
So, here’s the bottom line: technology won’t save you from the mess. But a crystal-clear Theory of Change just might. Time to roll up those sleeves and do the work to align your objectives. Your impact awaits!

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