Every nonprofit is (and should be) different from its peers in a host of ways. However, nonprofits also need a basic framework around which to live out their mission. These six elements are critical to all nonprofits, regardless of mission or scope.


Clarity of Purpose

How an organization defines and aligns its work and impact through:

  • Mission and vision
  • Program mix
  • Theory of change
  • Strategy and analysis

Sustainable Business Model

How an organization develops resources and positions itself for success through:

  • Value proposition
  • Culture of philanthropy
  • Business planning
  • Financing and earned income

The Right Leadership

How staff and board leaders steer and steward organizational efforts, such as:

  • Leadership structure
  • Succession planning
  • Governance
  • Management and supervision

Smart Operations

How an organization manages and marshals organizational resources, including:

  • Human capital
  • Resources
  • Core values and culture
  • Brand

Implementation and Improvement

How an organization uses information to adapt, innovate and improve through:

  • Experimentation and innovation
  • Learning culture
  • Performance management

Strategic Collaborations

How an organization leverages the community for greater impact through:

  • Community partnerships
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • System-level change

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The Nonprofit Effectiveness Framework: Six Critical Elements to Nonprofit Work

This guide provides definitions, guidance, tools and resources to help you understand the elements of the Effectiveness Framework, including:

  • Clarity of Purpose
  • Sustainable Business Model
  • The Right Leadership
  • Smart Operations
  • Implementation and Improvement
  • Strategic Collaboration

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