3 Crucial Questions Every Social Organisation Should Answer

Last October, Thrive Social Consulting (previously known as the COVID-19 NPO Taskforce) organised a webinar named Reimagining Singapore’s Social Sector: Resilient and Future-ready for more than 150 social sector leaders in Singapore. The session had also introduced three interesting and strategic questions that managers and leaders of every non-profit organisation should be asking themselves in their navigation of the COVID-19 era. Allow us to share these useful questions with you and offer suggestions for your organisation to tackle the challenges brought about by the new normal.

Royalty-free vector illustration by the godly Freepik.

1. Do your actions and impact achieve the organisation’s intended goal?

Social organisations are under mounting pressure to prove and quantify their impact on social causes such as gender equality and poverty. In achieving so, setting strategic mission objectives is crucial and we are confident that the SMART framework will provide a well-needed dose of inspiration for your goal-setting journey. The acronym SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, underscores the generation of end-goals that are well-defined, feasible and attainable with a set deadline. Apart from the goal-setting process, it is also important to pay attention to the domain of outcomes and whether your generated impact has matched the organisation’s intended goal. We would like to stress, however, that there is no blanket approach when it comes to such measurement and evaluation. Despite the growing prominence of various social performance measurement practices over the past few decades, it still is common today for researchers to lament that the measurement of nonprofit organisational performance remains tricky to encapsulate. Moreover, it is near impossible to formulate — much less meet — metrics at every level of a results chain. Nonetheless, there exist some general but salient metrics for social organisations to advance their well-calibrated objectives. These metrics include the number of clients helped, donor growth rate and member churn rate. Consider yourself warned, however, that traditional metrics of efficiency and effectiveness are increasingly recognised by social sector leaders as insufficient in capturing the true value of the organisation’s generated social impact. As such, you may choose to complement them with other measurement frameworks to assess your social impact in a more holistic and nuanced manner. Such examples include the Social Return on Investment (SROI) methodology and a four-part Performance Measurement Lifecycle. As there is no one-size-fits-all approach, social organisations should select a method that proves most apt for their purposes.

2. Are all the stakeholders aligned with the organisation’s value proposition?

If the answer is no, how can organisations ensure that their stakeholders are aligned with their value proposition? This is a thorny challenge for which there are no easy answers, but we can humbly provide a few suggestions. One primary way is to create a compelling brand story — as pretentious and corny as it might sound, what is your organisation’s reason for being? To ensure that stakeholders are onboard and in it with you for the long run, there is a pressing need to differentiate your social organisation from the cacophony of non-profits that share similar mission objectives. To this end, Alyssa Conrardy, president and co-founder of Prosper Strategies, urges social organisations to design a comparative matrix to provide a clearer picture of where they stand amongst the pack and to identify, if possible, a specific strength that they alone can lay claim to. After defining their organisation’s unique raison d’etre, non-profit leaders can also conduct a stakeholder analysis to understand their interests, knowledge and positions relating to the organisation’s policies. This way, strategies could be designed and tailored to better accommodate them or acquire their buy-in at each level. Strategic communication plans can also be created to explain your organisation’s value proposition effectively to stakeholders.

3. Is your organisation ready to adopt skills-based volunteering?

Many non-profits are running on a tighter budget amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. With limited resources to spare, some may choose to minimise staff expenses and outreach activities. At this juncture, you may start to fret over the implications of so on key business functions like marketing and accounting. Yet this concern could easily be circumvented by a fairly low-cost option: the recruitment of talented skills-based volunteers to fill your available organisational roles and support your operations. We know that sourcing for corporate partnerships and connecting with potential volunteers via professional networking sites can be incredibly cumbersome, so we have got you covered. Simply rely on Skills For Good to get you the right talent for the job! Since its humble inception, the local youth-led volunteer-matching organisation has diligently built an active community of passionate and capable volunteers that have worked for some of the most successful organisations. Not only does Skills For Good have direct and quick access to individuals possessing the unique skill-set that you are looking for, but the organisation is also here to help customise projects to your needs, match the right volunteers for you, and facilitate high impact engagements. Learn more about Skills For Good below!

About Skills for Good

Skills for Good, a local volunteer-matching organisation, with a base of eclectic volunteers with skills ranging from marketing and communications to information technology to fundraising. We seek to empower volunteers through convenient and meaningful skills-based volunteering opportunities that help social organisations to achieve their mission.​ Volunteer with us today and wake up tomorrow with the warm and fuzzy sensation of ‘volunesia’.

Author: Lim Jia Ying


Arvidson, M., & Lyon, F. (2014). Social impact measurement and non-profit organisations: Compliance, resistance, and promotion. VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 25(4), 869–886. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11266-013-9373-6

Berg, L. O., & Månsson, C. (2011). Return on donations: A white paper on charity impact measurement. Charity Star. Retrieved from http://www.charitystar.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/Return_on_donations_a_white_paper_on_charity_impact_measurement.pdf

Conrardy, A. (2019, September 17). Determining Your Nonprofit’s Unique Value Proposition for Donors and Funders (Finding Your Reason for Being). Prosper Strategies. Retrieved from https://prosper-strategies.com/nonprofit-value-proposition/

Ebrahim, A., & Rangan, V. K. (2014). What impact? A framework for measuring the scale and scope of social performance. California Management Review, 56(3), 118–141. http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/cmr.2014.56.3.118

Eckhart-Queenan, J., & Forti, M. (2011). Measurement as learning: What nonprofit CEOs, board members, and philanthropists need to know to keep improving. The Bridgespan Group. Retrieved from https://www.bridgespan.org/bridgespan/images/articles/measurement-as-learning/MeasurementAsLearning_1.pdf?ext=.pdf

Frumkin, P., & Keating, E. K. (2010). The price of doing good: Executive compensation in nonprofit organizations. Policy and Society, 29, 269–282. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.polsoc.2010.07.004

Grant, H. M., & Crutchfield, L. R. (2007). Creating high-impact nonprofits. Stanford Social Innovation Review. Retrieved from https://ssir.org/articles/entry/creating_high_impact_nonprofits

Schmeer, K. K. (2000). Stakeholder Analysis Guidelines. WHO. Retrieved from www.who.int/workforcealliance/knowledge/toolkit/33.pdf

SROI Network. (2012). A Guide to Social Return on Investment. Retrieved from http://www.socialvalueuk.org/app/uploads/2016/03/The%20Guide%20to%20Social%20Return%20on%20Investment%202015.pdf

Trestle. (n.d.). Setting Non-Profit Goals: Metrics That Matter. Retrieved from https://trestle.co/blog/setting-non-profit-goals/#ub-convertable-trigger

World Bank Group. (2001). Stakeholder Analysis. Retrieved from http://www1.worldbank.org/publicsector/anticorrupt/PoliticalEconomy/stakeholderanalysis.htm