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Sharing Our Growth: Pay attention to what matters most, not what others think matters most.

Pay attention to what matters mostThis is the twelfth in a series of posts that will tease out key ingredients from the exponential growth of Share Our Strength over the past few years.

My previous post in this series discussed the power of accountability as a differentiator for nonprofits.  I emphasized that holding your organization accountable to specific outcomes can truly set you apart from others.  In order to do this, though, leaders must learn to sift through all the noise standing in the way of a clear, determined focus on what matters: achieving these specific outcomes.

Because impact is hard to have and even harder to measure and communicate, nonprofits are typically insecure about the impact they are having. Consequently, organizations often are seduced into paying attention to what others think is important: press coverage, brand awareness, efficiency ratings of GuideStar and Charity Navigator, etc.

And some of these may in fact be important. But ascertain that for yourself rather than assuming it.

These may all be nice to have but not necessary to achieving mission.  In fact Share Our Strength made many investments that impacted our “overhead to grant making” ratio in ways that hurt us with the ratings organizations, but had almost no negative impact on our donors or reputation, and actually helped our growth.

Donors, partners, foundations, and media all have strong biases about the way nonprofits should work. But they will not have your expertise in solving the specific set of social problems your organization was created to solve. So work to respectfully educate them but don’t let their own interests cause you to detour from your strategy.

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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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