Helping Nonprofits Communicate

message. solicit. impact.


1. Embrace a Vision of Accountability

Social entrepreneurs must come together with their key stakeholders and forge a stated commitment to the task and vision of the type of open, empowered organization they seek to create. You can’t get to the next town without walking on the road, so figure out what town you are heading to and make a commitment to get there!

2. Make an Accountability Map

Take yourself and your key players through the process and physically map out the individuals and organizations to whom you are accountable.  It can be as simple and rudimentary as sticking post it notes on your office wall to allow yourself organizational freedom.



Know the organizations and individuals well – and if you don’t them now, get to know them soon! figure out which players fall where on your priority list and know why they have rankings on your list.

3. Develop an Accountability Strategy

What steps stand between you and your goal? What rocks might be on your road?  How will you get to where you want to go and what mechanisms will you need to have in place to get there? What rocks might be on your road? How will you get to where you want to go and what mechanisms will you need to have in place to get there?

4. Act, Analyze, and Respond

Get out there, engage your targets, hear what they have to say, think about what they said, and figure out an appropriate response.  It’s not enough to have a policy and a few committees organized; you must be fully connected and engaged in a process of reaching out, hearing and responding to your targets.

5. Do It Again

As we move along in life, old habits die hard. You may have a sincere and genuine commitment to maintaining a posture of accountability but things come up, new demands are placed on you, and you often have to place your focus elsewhere. If you fall away onto a side path for a few feet, don’t worry.  Just get back on the road to accountability and keep moving forward.

6. Celebrate the Journey

Sometimes being accountable can be a real pain in the rear.  You have tons of meetings; if you ask someone what they think, that means you have to respond somehow to what they say; sometimes the whole thing is just more than you think it is worth.  Don’t worry! Be Happy! You’re building a better, stronger, more effective organization (even if you can’t quite see around the next bend in the road to know you are headed in the right direction and getting closer).  And that’s what it is all about.  Celebrate the process of becoming a truly great leader!

Resource: Enterprising Nonprofits by J. Gregory Dees

(if you haven’t read it, pick it up!)

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