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Growth and Efficiency are the Same, Right?

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First and most importantly, happy new year! As we enter 2017, our NEX-Impact team hopes this year brings renewed focus, enthusiasm, and energy yielding prosperity in all your respective endeavors.

It's quite common for us to make new year resolutions or simply set goals to accomplish for the year. Our goal at NEX-Impact is simple: continued growth. The perpetual question becomes: "How?" There is no simple answer for us and likely, not for you and your organizations either.

One common goal in our sector is the desire to “grow.” By growing, organizations believe they can expand their reach and ultimately have greater impact. We're often approached for our services due to nonprofit leaders’ desire to grow, not necessarily become more efficient (Okay, I wrote it … but you will not see the term “nonprofit” written again in this blog. LOL!).

As we consider our “things to do” list for 2017, we pose the question to ourselves and you:  What kind of growth do we want and why do we want it? Is growth necessarily a good thing? Although well intentioned, one of the fatal flaws in the “social benefit” sector (our preferred term instead of the dreaded “non” word) is placing priority on growth over efficiency. What does that mean? Simply put, growth for "growth's sake"- whether it's serving more people, adding more programs, or adding more staff does not necessarily equate to success or efficiency. Revenue and organizational growth while certainly desirable, do not necessarily equate to better outcomes for our stakeholders. This leads us to the core question: When is the right time for growth? When is growth truly a “good” thing for the organization and our stakeholders?

Social benefit organizations must always ask themselves if growth is ultimately going to benefit its service consumers or the organization's "perceived" profile. Why growth? Is it to impress investors? Is it aimed at “taking out” the competition? Does increased service volume provide better outcomes? If none of those equate to better outcomes and strengthen the organization's capacity to deliver on its mission, what is the point? A solid growth plan should be strategic, should clarify the type of growth, the rationale for it, the pattern of growth, the activities needed to get there, and who’s responsible for doing it. If growth is desired just to impress outsiders, investors, the competition, or for ego, then pause is in order.

The great UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, "never mistake activity for achievement." Nowhere is this truer than in the social benefit sector. At NEX-Impact, we aspire to be efficient in 2017. If that means organizational growth, then great. If not, that’s great too!

 
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