The National Council of Nonprofits encourages nonprofits to embrace a culture that supports evaluating the difference your nonprofit is making. This requires first identifying “what does success look like?” Then making a plan that will get you there, and collecting information along the way to evaluate whether your nonprofit’s progress is actually getting you closer to success. Finally, it’s important also to communicate what you are discovering, and use those lessons to continuously improve performance. All of this is referred to variously as, “outcomes measurement,” or “performance management,” or simply, “evaluation.” There are many valuable resources on their website
They also recommend the free book Leap of Reason a powerful and easy-to-read book that explains how nonprofits have a responsibility to the individuals and communities we all serve to be as effective as possible. The authors go on to stress that in an environment of increasingly limited resources, those nonprofits that can demonstrate that they are truly making an impact will be the ones most likely to attract resources and talent, and therefore be most sustainable.