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Sharing Our Growth: Capacity Equals Impact

This is the fourth in a series of posts that will tease out key ingredients from the exponential growth of Share Our Strength over the past few years.

As I mentioned in my first post, getting Share Our Strength unstuck from our plateaued state required sharpening our strategy and making significant investments in capacity.

Because nonprofits are not typically engaged in manufacturing, or supply chain, or warehousing, capacity usually means staff and technology as opposed to equipment, facilities, etc.

It is difficult to increase impact without increasing capacity.

If you don’t assert the correlation between capacity and impact, then no one will assert it for you. In fact, you will fall victim to precisely the opposite bias and be measured against metrics stacked to ensure you don’t win: administrative overhead, salary, fundraising costs, etc.

Nearly all of the incentives in the nonprofit sector run against long-term investments in capacity.

As Clara Miller, founder of the Nonprofit Finance Fund has explained: Philanthropy is enterprise blind and therefore enterprise unfriendly. All of the stakeholders of an organization – staff, board, donors, and beneficiaries are so committed to creating social value everywhere and all the time that they favor investing in program instead of capacity and consequently, even if unintentionally, exploit the enterprise and ultimately hollow out the enterprise.

Just as Warren Buffett has often explained that he always favors investing in building long-term competitive strengths over reaping short-term profit, organizational leadership must assert and defend the direct connection between capacity and impact.

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About Billy Shore

Billy Shore is the founder and executive director of Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit that is ending childhood hunger in America. Shore is also the chairman of Community Wealth Partners, a Share Our Strength organization that helps change agents solve social problems at the magnitude they exist.

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