In 2013 alone there were more than 2.5 million nonprofit [501(c)(3)] started in the U.S. According to the SBA, nearly 50% of all businesses started — including nonprofit agencies — will fail within their first 5 years.

It’s no secret nonprofit agencies work very hard to deliver important community services (including some much-needed social service programming) while at the same time facing significant external constraints and setbacks. Many of these external constraints (donor fatigue, government payment cutbacks and slowdowns, unanticipated increases in demand for services) are beyond the direct control or influence of the agency.

But there are many other factors that can contribute to a nonprofit’s likelihood of success (effective marketing and fundraising, agency leadership, operational efficiency, volunteer recruitment and training, are just the start) and these are within the control of the agency. One of the most critical elements in successful nonprofits is a well-equipped, well-functioning, high-impact board of directors. A strong, effective, and diverse leadership team can help a nonprofit through many challenges that would normally cripple an agency. A good board can help you increase fundraising, make better decisions, and expand your sphere of influence in your community.

The best place for an agency to start  improving its effectiveness is to start with the board. Best-selling management author Peter Drucker once wrote, “All nonprofit boards have one thing in common, they don’t work”.

Granted this can be a difficult conversation to bring up to the board chair but if your board is having problems getting things done, setting budgets or fixing priorities, it may well have some problems that should be addressed.

Sometimes it can be difficult to assess your nonprofit objectively, and uncover the trouble areas that could be holding you back from making a bigger impact. 

The Break Through Assessment was designed to help you learn more about your nonprofit, discover potential challenges, and figure out if it’s time for a conversation with your board. It can also help raise awareness of trigger issues, so you can work to overcome them, and build a more successful organization. For many nonprofits, the assessment has been an eye-opener, opening the door for communication, and leading to improved board and agency effectiveness. Find out your score here.

After you take it, let me know how your board scored.