As a leader, do you find yourself planning based on your budget or are you making decisions based on your operational capacity and areas of strengths and improvement? Now that 2020 has come and gone, leaders are trying to assess how they will plan for 2021 and beyond. One of the best tools is an organizational assessment because it ensures a strong foundation from which to add a program or undertake a major change effort. It can also develop a common understanding among board and organizational leaders regarding what needs to be done in your nonprofit. It can help you assess how your nonprofit compares to what are suggested as standards for nonprofits.

An organizational assessment looks at categories of strength indicators including: legal, governance, human resources, strategic planning, program planning, evaluations, finances, technology, and fundraising.

What purpose does the assessment have? It can do any of the following:

  1. Provide stakeholders with information about the organization’s performance (to demonstrate organizational competence or sustainability for funders)
  2. Generate information that will be useful in annual planning and decision-making
  3. Identify resources (human and otherwise) that the organization can use to effectively improve its performance
  4. Identify needs that should be addressed through specific actions through an action plan
  5. Respond to a need or desire to change an organization’s performance in meeting mission, and determine where you should invest resources for change or divest in areas that are no longer sustainable or duplicated by another organization.

Ultimately, doing an organizational assessment is a process that creates opportunities for reflecting about appropriate paths for the future. The findings can assist a leader in making certain types of decisions, such as:

  1. Strategic decisions: Do we grow? Merge? Shrink? Change/expand our mission?
  2. Program decisions: Should we expand your programs? Partner with someone? Should we offer new services?
  3. Financial feasibility decisions: Should we diversify your funding sources and if so, how? Should new approaches to fundraising be identified? Should we consider fee-for-service or expansion?
  4. Staffing decisions: Should we hire staff with different skills to support your mission? Should we let some staff go and if so, who? Do staff have the skills they need to meet complex situations?

Organizational Assessments, in totality may take up to 6 months, depending on the complexity of the organization. However if done correctly, can provide the data needed to make informed decisions moving forward either in the form of an operational or strategic plan.

Michelle Turman, MA, CFRE is the CEO of Catalyst Consulting Services whose mission is to facilitate positive change for nonprofits in the areas of executive searches, organizational management, and fundraising. With over twenty-seven years of nonprofit experience, Turman has been responsible for increasing the impact and best practices of nonprofit organizations she serves and has raised over $75 million for the Tampa Bay community through her professional and personal philanthropic efforts.

Turman is author of the best-selling book, Jumping the Queue – Achieving Great Things Before You Are Ready which focuses on how professionals can seize personal and professional opportunities, achieve great things, and get what they want and deserve. In addition to facilitating change nationally and in the Tampa Bay area, Michelle’s community service has included leadership roles on the boards of the Arts Council of Hillsborough County, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Charitable Gift Planners of Tampa Bay, Donate Life America, Leadership Pinellas, the South Tampa YMCA and University of South Florida’s Women in Leadership & Philanthropy & Deans Advisory Council for the College of Arts & Sciences, and Working Women of Tampa Bay Foundation.

Turman has been recognized by Tampa Bay Metro Magazine as one of Tampa Bay’s Distinguished Women in Business and the Face of Nonprofit Change, nominated by Tampa Bay Business Journal as Business Woman of the Year in 2007, 2016 and 2017 and was recently nominated by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce as The Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year for 2018.