The Dimensions of Value

Nonprofit relevance has many dimensions. At its heart is the value the nonprofit provides for all those it touches. In our society we often think of value as being limited to the economic benefit something or someone provides. That is a reasonable first reaction since our for-profit activities usually dominate our conversations, news, and decisions. However, one of the reasons nonprofits exist is to bring value to our communities in ways that the for-profit and government agencies can’t or won’t. Therefore, it makes sense for us to take a moment and think about all of the ways a nonprofit could provide value for its community.

There are five dimensions of value. Few nonprofits are able to add value to their communities in all areas. In addition, nonprofits need to do more to communicate the value they do provide. When they do talk about their value, they usually talk about the nonprofit’s immediate value and neglect to mention intermediate or long-term (durable) value. It is the durable value that is most compelling when trying to attract support. Durable value also contributes the most to a nonprofit’s sustainability.

In each of the following area, how does your nonprofit create value that your community will recognize and appreciate?

Community – How does your nonprofit contribute to the wellbeing of your community? Examples: Public safety, reduce crime and violence, ecology, beautification, accessibility, and recreation.

Emotional – How does your nonprofit contributes to your community’s emotional health? Examples: Increased pride in the community, greater peace, increased optimism, and more harmonious relations between groups.

Financial – How does your nonprofit increase the financial well-being of your community? Examples: Increase employment, better waste management, stable employment, and more self-sufficient families.

Health – How does your nonprofit improve the health of your community’s residence? Examples: Better healthcare, better fitness, less pollution, and better nutrition.

Intellectual – How does your nonprofit improve the intellectual development of your community’s residents? Examples: Increase high school graduation, educate children, enable individuals to pursue higher education, and keep citizens informed about issues.

The value your nonprofit creates occurs in two ways. One is through your client services. The other is as collateral benefit of your services. Both can be measured. The value of each should be reported to your community and supporters. Whether you report the value as an aggregate or as components depends on your audience.

Next Step:

Identify your nonprofit’s unheralded values

Survey your supporters to determine which of your unheralded values are most important to them and how they would like you to report your value

Determine how to increase your nonprofit’s value and the durability of its value

One of the dominant themes in management is to be results driven. Mission Enablers agrees that being results driven is important. In addition, we feel that the value to the community is more important than the results themselves. For example, helping individuals start their own businesses is a good result. Helping them start businesses that strengthen your community creates significantly more value. The increase in value raises support and sustainability. The increase in value also reinforces the relevance of your mission and attracts more clients, donors, high-quality board members, and other supporter.

Take It Further:

Look for programing changes that can extend the value of your nonprofit without diluting or redefining your mission



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