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In my recent Q&A with Insight Labs, I explore why nonprofits must measure outcomes, not activities, if they want to survive.

This excerpt that gets to the bottom of the current activity-focused mindset:

“The first problem is figuring out what outcomes people are actually trying to accomplish. I think there is a lot of focus on activities and not a lot of focus on outcomes. People say, “I run a homeless shelter,” or “I put on a conference,” or “We’re working with the poor.” Those are all activities. Nobody wants to buy an activity. We want to buy outcomes. So organizations need to get clarity on what kinds of outcomes – what changes in knowledge, conditions, status, or behavior – they are trying to bring about.

A classic example is people that do job training. The outcome of the organization is supposed to be getting people to be economically self-sufficient, not to train them in a skill. You can train somebody all you want. You can say you trained 1,000 people. Nobody cares. We want to know, did you actually get them a job? Is that job sustainable? Are they becoming self-sufficient? Are you giving them supports like child care, budgeting skills, tools to repair their credit so that they can become self-sufficient?”

Read the full interview here.