Bridgespan Group Launches Multi-Year Effort to Help Nonprofits Strengthen Their Performance Using Management Tools

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New Bridgespan poll reveals widespread use and growing interest in tools, but also highlights gaps between attitudes and actions.

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The survey provides insights into how well these tools help leaders respond to trends in the sector.

The Bridgespan Group announced its release of a report aimed at understanding the role management tools play in the efforts of nonprofit leaders to boost their organizations’ performance. The study also highlights the gaps between leadership attitudes on key nonprofit management trends and actions regarding which tools to use, how often and for what purpose.

According to co-author of the report Paul Carttar, a Bridgespan senior advisor, “The survey provides insights into how well these tools help leaders respond to trends in the sector. We hope this will be valuable information for leaders who aspire to create high-performing, high-impact organizations.”

Highlights from the study’s findings include:
     •    Tool use is widespread and poised for further growth (91% said they plan to use 11 tools or more in 2015).
     •    Relationship-oriented tools are more popular than analytic tools, with partnerships and collaboration leading in use and satisfaction.
     •    Satisfaction with tools used is generally high but varies with effort invested.

“While we anticipated some of the findings,” said Carttar, “There were also many surprises, especially relating to gaps between trends and practice.” For example:
     •    Tools and trends at times diverge: Misalignment occurs between opinions on trends and related tool usage in two prominent cases:
             - First, nonprofit leaders see a need to increase performance measurement both to strengthen impact and their case for program funding, but few believe funders will increase support for evaluations.
             - Also, many nonprofits consider talent management a key issue, but 60% have failed to take advantage of tools that could help assess and develop employees.
     •    Leaders’ attitudes toward specific pathways to grow impact vary dramatically by size of organization (e.g., organizations of all sizes are betting on partnerships and collaborations, but larger ones are more likely to explore technology and for-profit models).

The report itself was modeled on a similar business survey that has been conducted by Bain & Company since 1993, which has become a widely-used resource for business leaders around the world.

Co-author and Bridgespan Senior Director Chris Lindquist said, “We intend to conduct this survey biannually, to stimulate questions, test practice, spark experiments, and ultimately help nonprofit leaders match tools to task and achieve results.”

Funded in part by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and developed with the help of Bain & Company’s Advanced Analytics Group, the survey questions included input from more than two dozen sector practitioners, funders, and intermediaries and was distributed to more than 50,000 executives.

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About The Bridgespan Group

The Bridgespan Group (http://www.bridgespan.org) is a nonprofit advisor and resource for mission-driven organizations and philanthropists. We collaborate with social sector leaders to help scale impact, build leadership, advance philanthropic effectiveness and accelerate learning. We work on issues related to society’s most important challenges and to break cycles of intergenerational poverty. Our services include strategy consulting, leadership development, philanthropy advising, and developing and sharing practical insights.

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Liz London
The Bridgespan Group
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