A friend of mine recently reminded me of the famous 1899 quotation by Rep. Willard Duncan Vandiver that gave Missouri its state slogan: “Frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” The rest is history (so to speak!). Tell anyone you’re from the “show me” state and they know you’re from Missouri! As nonprofits, that’s where all of us should be from today.
It is more important than ever to evidence our service and outcomes in a visible, measurable way. We work in the service sector. And we know the expectations. It is likely that none of us would willingly tolerate poor service at our bank, grocery store, service station, or utility company. We may inquire about the number of ‘complaints’ received before using a new contractor or check on “Angie’s List” for a reference. Perhaps we check to see if there’s a rating system for a new restaurant before we visit. In each case, we want evidence of good service to reassure us before we invest. If we experience poor service or a poor outcome from the service purchased, we are highly unlikely to return to that provider again!
As nonprofits, it’s time to get on track and show people our quality service. We should not rely on stirring stories, loyalty, or other emotions to garner support. We should present real facts and data that clearly show our impact on solving our social challenges. It’s time to measure what we do and make those measures easily accessible to all. It’s time to correlate services delivered with measureable outcomes that resonate with our multiple customers and constituents.
Inside of our organizations, we must establish a culture of high expectations where all work together to create the greatest impact in the most cost efficient manner. It is not enough to ‘do good’. We must do well. VERY well…and very visibly. All of us must continually learn from our successes and failures, and we must analyze our practices and performance to constantly improve. We must cultivate the talent in our organizations and unleash their innovation to be relevant in our communities.
Let’s define our results, measure our progress and share our data with everyone! Let’s build organizations where talent is encouraged and free to create real impact.