What’s a Nonprofit “Program”? Really?

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    Too Often, What We Call a Program, Really Isn’t

    If you spent the day guiding old ladies across the street and someone gave you a dollar for doing it, would that mean you’re delivering a “program?” What many people call a program is too often just a sporadic set of disconnected activities — it’s not really a program.

    So What’s a Real Nonprofit Program?

    A program is:

    • A highly integrated, ongoing set of activities,
    • Aimed to meet a verified unmet need in the community,
    • By accomplishing certain outcomes among clients and
    • Using sufficient evaluation to verify that it’s meeting that need.

    The quality of the program depends on

    • How well resourced the program is with people, funding, facilities, etc.
    • How well the nonprofit responds to results of evaluations to improve the program

    A program closes the loop — it hears back from its clients to verify if the program is indeed meeting the needs of the clients AND the needs of the community.

    What do you think?


    For more resources, see our Library topic Nonprofit Capacity Building.

    Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD – Authenticity Consulting, LLC – 800-971-2250
    Read my weekly blogs: Boards, Consulting and OD, Nonprofits and Strategic Planning.