High-performing nonprofits value the regular use of data to track progress and strengthen program implementation. They encourage intelligent risk-taking and regularly experiment with new ideas and approaches. There is a strong focus on professional development and actionable, continuous learning in order to deliver better results to clients and the community.



We implement our programs with consistent high quality.

Effective nonprofits understand that even the most well-designed programs will not lead to measurable results without a strong focus on the quality of service and program delivery. They recognize that quality matters and strive to consistently meet and exceed their client’s expectations, and best practice standards.


We have the right metrics to track our progress and measure our outcomes.

Operational and programmatic metrics allow organizations to assess the degree to which they are making progress on important goals. While output metrics such as number of people served can be important to track, even more important are outcome metrics which help determine if the work is leading to actual change in clients or participants.


We regularly analyze and discuss our data to continually improve our work.

It is not enough to simply collect data on program and operational outputs and outcomes. Organizations must also gather this data into actionable, easily-accessible formats, such as through the use of a dashboard. Developing a systematic process for discussing the data and internal evaluation will help organizations better understand their programs and operations and ultimately achieve a higher level of performance.


We experiment with and test new ideas and approaches to improve our work.

Effective nonprofits also recognize the value of iterative learning through experimentation. The process of “lean” experimentation has entered the social sector, inviting a process of turning new ideas for programs, services, or even new revenue models into iterative experiments. This allows organizations to more quickly test ideas, weed out those that won’t work and validate those that do.


We invest in learning and keeping up with best practices in our field.

Professional development and peer networking is critical to help ensure that staff keep up with the trends, resources and evolving ideas that will help advance the mission of the organization, and their own growth and development. Organizations should proactively budget for professional development, and make staff learning and leadership goals an organizational priority.


We have a culture that values learning and recognize that failures are opportunities for improvement.

In a true learning organization, employees are given the time and resources to make learning a priority, and they are encouraged to take risks and iterate. Leaders provide constructive feedback and honest appraisals of what is working and what is not. Furthermore, they acknowledge that failure is a necessary part of learning and growth.

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

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

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.

A set of guiding questions for nonprofits to consider as they work to develop a culture that uses outcome data to improve programs and services.

Learn about how your organization can effectively combine qualitative and quantitative data to tell your story of impact.

Use this template to create a logic model, outlining how your programs will lead to desired outcomes.

Other Resources


A website that provides measurement tools and free on-demand webinars on the topics of outcomes management and evaluation.

The Promise of Lean Experimentation

Use the “lean” model to launch, test and implement new programs and services efficiently and effectively.

If You Have To Fail – And You Do – Fail Forward

The most inventive people are usually the best at failing forward, i.e. learning from what went wrong.