Why does an organization exist? What results is it trying to achieve and how does the work create this impact? Effective nonprofits are guided by their core mission, theory of change and strategic plan, and they work hard to stay on the right path in order to achieve greater impact.



Our mission statement is clear, compelling and used as a guide toward reaching our intended impact.

A mission statement should describe the reason an organization exists and what it hopes to achieve. Typically mission statements provide clarity about what the organization aspires to do, but doesn’t necessarily restrain how it gets there. In addition to a mission statement, many organizations use vision statements to articulate how the world will be a better place if their mission is met.


Our work is based on sound analysis and understanding of the issues and best practices in our field.

Sound analysis comes when an organization spends time and effort to get a firm understanding of its landscape. Effective nonprofits should analyze the community need, look at the larger ecosystem (e.g. specific mission area or geography), base programs on research and best practices, and integrate participant feedback to gain clarity regarding programming, positioning and intended impact.


We have clearly defined our target population and outlined how our programs achieve desired results.

A Theory of Change (TOC) is a road-map that describes how an organization’s resources and activities lead to intended outcomes. A TOC also clarifies which groups or individuals an organization serves. It can be helpful to develop an overall organizational level TOC, along with a theory for each core program. A TOC can be a written narrative or depicted through the use of a graphic, such as a logic model.


Our strategic plan serves as an effective guide for making decisions about opportunities and policies.

Strategic planning is designed to help an organization chart a course and action plan for the next three to five years. The strategic planning process should help an organization think about its financial viability and mission impact, and the relationship between the two. The process should gather data from key stakeholders and answer critical questions related to community need and market, core programming and impact, staffing and governance, and business model.


We have a strategic plan that guides our daily work.

Once a strategic plan is created, it should be fully integrated into the day-to-day work of the organization. Nonprofits create a detailed, annual operating plan which includes a coordinated set of tasks for carrying out strategic goals. Other ideas include regularly tracking, analyzing and reporting on key metrics included in the strategic plan and tying employee performance goals to strategic goals.


We have the right mix of programs and services to achieve our mission and strategy.

The programs a nonprofit operates should reflect the best use of organizational resources. It is important to periodically assess the perceived impact, as well as the financial viability, of each core program and service. Considerations such as scale, depth, and whether it is filling an important need that participants can’t meet elsewhere should be taken into account during this evaluation of program mix.

The Nonprofit Effectiveness Framework: Six Critical Elements to Nonprofit Work

Mission Capital has identified six elements that are critical to all organizations, regardless of size, mission or scope. This guide provides definitions, guidance, tools and resources to help you understand the elements of the Nonprofit Effectiveness Framework, including:

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

Mission Capital Services and Resources

Our team of consultants can help you assess your organization, identify goals and consider how to direct your resources to achieve those goals.

The strategic planning process can be complex, but the Mission Capital approach ensures that you come out with a helpful tool to guide your work.

Attend expert-led courses with topics ranging from strategic business planning to outcomes management.

Use this template to assist in the creation of a logic model, outlining how your programs will lead to desired outcomes.

Other Resources

Working Hard & Working Well

This guidebook, by David Hunter, offers a step-by step process to develop an organizational theory of change.

Zeroing in On Impact

Read about nonprofits, like Harlem Children’s Zone, who have gone through a process of developing an organizational theory of change.

Matrix Map

Use this tool (and the book, The Sustainability Mindset) to plot your organizational activities into a single picture of mission and financial impact.