In a recent Campbell & Company survey, 75 percent of respondents cited a disconnect between their day-to-day activities and their organization’s strategies. We weren’t surprised! It’s easy to get sidetracked with new projects that have short-term advantages but that lose sight of long-term goals. And although efforts to establish formal strategic plans are well-intentioned, they can easily end up sitting on a bookshelf or in a drawer without any connection to present day matters. So how can you align an organization with its strategies? We recommend balanced scorecards.
What are balanced scorecards?
A balanced scorecard is a holistic view of your organization that is tied to your overall mission, vision and strategy. The benefits of a balanced scorecard are that it:
- Helps you be realistic about what can be accomplished.
- Identifies how success will be measured.
- Keeps everyone on the same page.
- Focuses your activities on outcomes.
- Connects activities to long-term strategies.
Of course, there will be challenges. Will you be able to garner commitment at all levels? Can you be transparent with your activities, methods, decision making and outcomes? Do you have someone who can be accountable for success? Will this effort require a major cultural shift?
Where do you start?
We break down the balanced scorecard process into three phases.
Phase I: Identify where you need to be.
Phase II: Determine how you need to get there.
Phase III: Translate that into action items and metrics.
What is an example?
Let’s use the case study of a local organization that provides youth development through outdoor experiences. They’ve had some recent growth and are very focused on constituents and volunteers. They decide to build a scorecard to measure and track revenue growth, constituent engagement and operational excellence. Here are some of their scorecard elements:
- They commit to increasing revenue by identifying new funding sources and managing costs. One strategy will be to increase philanthropic donations by developing a major gift program and building a new donor base. They’ll accomplish this by implementing an annual giving plan. They’ll measure success through total funds booked and total number of new donors.
- They seek to provide new levels of service to their clients by assessing needs and providing more comprehensive programs. One strategy will be to increase partnerships and leverage community resources. They’ll accomplish these by implementing a new partner program. They’ll measure success through the number of partners committed.
- They desire to hire, train and retain the best employees who are passionate about their mission. One strategy will be to identify hiring needs and promote workplace flexibility as an attractive benefit. They’ll accomplish this by redesigning the human resources function and rolling out a flexible working plan. They’ll measure success through the number of qualified positions hired.
What if the needle isn’t moving on a metric?
If you have a metric that isn’t progressing, you’ve identified a mismatch between day-to-day actions and strategy. We suggest going back to your scorecard to identify what isn’t working. Does everyone clearly understand the measures? Are there key activities that haven’t been completed? Is the target still relevant? If so, what can be done to help get back on track? This kind of transparency and accountability is the backbone of balanced scorecard success.
If you’d like to learn more about balanced scorecards, view our webinar, “Creating and Managing Effective Balanced Scorecards for your Organization.”
About Campbell & Company
Campbell & Company is a national consulting firm offering fundraising, communications, executive search and strategic information services for nonprofit organizations in the education, health and medicine, arts and culture, environment, social service, and professional society fields.
Through 40 years and thousands of engagements, Campbell & Company has helped nonprofit organizations anticipate and manage the challenges of the philanthropic marketplace. The company maintains offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Washington, DC. For more information, please call (877) 957-0000, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.campbellcompany.com.