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Mission Focus

quote1 Managing to outcomes is not about simply counting things or gathering information. And it is not about satisfying funders. It is an internal effort aimed at figuring out what works and what doesn't, so that the organization can provide the best possible services to its clients. quote1 --Isaac Castillo


Following are some of the best materials we have found on mission focus. If you have additional materials to suggest, please let us know.

Relentless: Investing in Leaders Who Stop at Nothing in Pursuit of Greater Social Impact

Mario Morino, April 27, 2012
Mario Morino’s City Club of Cleveland speech in which he describes the social and economic tsunamis that are now hitting our shores and eroding social services in America. Instead of leveling across-the-board “haircuts” to all organizations, he argues, we should go much deeper with our support for those leaders who are relentless in pursuit of high performance for those they serve.

Tactical Philanthropy Leap of Reason Coverage

Sean Stannard-Stockton, Tactical Philanthropy, July 7, 2011
The Tactical Philanthropy blog coverage of Leap of Reason sparked a lively debate. Read the full discussion in four parts:
More on Philanthropy’s Natural State of Underrperformance
High Performing Philanthropy: To What End?
Mario Morino on “Underperformance in Philanthropy” Debate
Rigor and Moral Clarity in Philanthropy

Avoiding a False Choice (Why We Need Both ‘Morality’ and Assessment)

Phil Buchanan, The Center for Effective Philanthropy, July 21, 2011
Phil Buchanan of the Center of Effective Philanthropy speaks at the Hudson Institute on why morality and measurement are complimentary. He uses Leap of Reason as an example of such work.

Community Spotlight: Child & Family Service’s “Leap of Reason”

Joyce Lee-Ibarra, March 20, 2012
JLI Consulting profiles the Child & Family Service’s work with Leap of Reason to achieve greater effectiveness.

“Zeroing In on Impact”

Colby, Susan, Nan Stone, and Paul Carttar, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2004
“In an era of declining resources, nonprofits need to clarify their intended impact.”


Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Principles and Practice

Drucker, Peter, New York: HarperCollins, 1990
“The service, or non-profit, sector of our society is growing rapidly (with more than 8 million employees and more than 80 million volunteers), creating a major need for guidelines and expert advice on how to manage these organizations effectively. Drucker gives examples and explanations of mission, leadership, resources, marketing, goals, people development, decision making, and much more. Included are interviews with nine experts that address key issues in the non-profit sector.”

“The Power of Vision”

Kilpatrick, Andrea, and Les Silverman, Strategy & Leadership, Spring 2005
“A vision can keep an organization focused, increase the ease of performance measurement, help track successes and identify early warning signs of ineffective programs. Clear visions also highlight gaps in talent, funds, or facilities.”  Kilpatrick and Silverman address the acute need for nonprofits to develop a vision and discuss design, methodology and approach through a series of best practices.

“The Power of Theories of Change”

Brest, Paul, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2010
“Improving the lives of disadvantaged populations—whether through better schools, after-school programs, or teen pregnancy prevention clinics—requires proven theories of change.”

“Using a Theory of Change Approach to Build Organizational Strength, Capacity and Sustainability with Not-for-Profit Organizations in the Human Services Sector.”

Hunter, David E. K., Evaluation and Program Planning, May 2006
“Adopting a theory of change is imperative to promoting the building of organizational capacity and program sustainability.”


“Logic Model Development Guide”

Battle Creek, MI: W. K. Kellogg Foundation, 2004
“The W.K. Kellogg Foundation Logic Model Development Guide, a companion publication to the Evaluation Handbook, focuses on the development and use of the program logic model.”

“Mapping Change: Using a Theory of Change to Guide Planning and Evaluation”

“This brief guide explains why grantmakers use theories of change to guide their questioning, unearth assumptions that underlie their work, establish common language, and develop strong action plans. Contributors to the guide also describe how a theory of change sets the stage for evaluation by clarifying goals, strategies, and milestones.”