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The Nature Conservancy - Case Study Example

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This research explores the experience by Nature Conservancy as the demonstration of how nonprofit organizations can measure outcomes. In the world of nonprofit making organizations, measuring of results has always been a difficult undertaking…
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In the world of nonprofit making organizations, measuring of results has always been a difficult undertaking. The problem stems from the nature of work carried out by these organizations as they pursue lofty tasks such as reducing poverty and conservation. Those concerned with their funding are increasingly demanding prove of the organizations’ effectiveness. In the face of dwindling social spending by the government and increasing competition for the scarce funds, nonprofit organization must formulate ways of assessing the outcomes of their activities. The experience by Nature Conservancy is demonstration of how nonprofit organizations can measure outcomes.
Initially, the conservancy used the buck and Acre approach where the buck represented fund raising efforts while Acre was the number of acres under protection (Schneider and Cheslock, 2003). Overtime they realized consistent discrepancies between their mission and the outcome measures. The number of acreage under the conservancy did not necessarily translate to preservation of biological diversity which was its core mission. The organization adopted a scientific method of analyzing the outcome. The approach involved four principles namely, setting up of priorities, designing strategies, implementation and measuring of success. The extensive analysis of the success as defined by the mission statement of the organization was able to clearly bring out the impact better than buck and acre approach (Sawhill and Williamson, 2001).
The strength of this approach lies in its ability to give a systematic formula of arriving to the desired outcome. The setting of goals gives specific outcomes against which the organization will be assessed. The strategies adopted to achieve the outcome can be designed to suit the resources available without wastage and promoting efficiency. The measure of the targeted success is focused to the initial targeted goals and therefore easy to measure the impact of the organization as per its set goals. The approach enables an organization to maintain focus to its goals which is normally difficult to achieve in the nonprofit organization. Various stakeholders in such organizations have different interest which derails from their core mission. Unlike in profit making organizations where different stakeholders are unified by the need to make profit, nonprofit organization has multiple visions.
The mandate of nonprofit organization is always broad and cannot be narrowed to few goals. In this respect, therefore the approach adopted by the Conservancy may boggle down its operation as it tries to rein the divergent interest of different stakeholders. The approach may also prove expensive to carry out successively. The funds committed to evaluation may probably have been channeled to the core business of the organization.
The shortage of resources hinders achievement of set goals by many nonprofit organizations. By using this approach, the Conservancy may therefore continuously fall short of its expectations. The conservancy should design milestones against which every outcome should be pegged upon; after achieving a given milestone, the next one should be tackled. Through this approach, the impact of the organization will be measured not only by the success of their project but time taken to accomplish them. The time taken may capture other factors such as shortage of funds that influence the success of a project apart from the organization’s efficiency

Sawhill, J. and Williamson, D. (2001). Measuring what matters in nonprofits. McKinsey
Quarterly, 2:98–107.
Schneider, B. and Cheslock, N. (2003). Measuring Results. Washington: Co-evolution Institute. Read More
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