The One Practice that Transforms Your Nonprofit Leadership and Fundraising

“Outcomes” Deliver More Money, More People, and More Impact for Your Mission

Outcomes rather than activity excite peoples’ interest in what God is doing.  They motivate us to find out how we can be a part of His Kingdom breaking through in this world.  If you want to have more money, more people, and more impact in making your God-given vision a reality, then make your Outcomes count.


“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”*

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”* Share on X

There is so much wisdom for nonprofit leadership and fundraising in this one statement!  We may just make this one of our Rules of Development.

What is important for us to track and count?  What does our Board of Directors want and need to determine progress and for future planning?  In many cases, there may be stats and figures we need to track for compliance to laws and policies.

How do we discern what is most important for us to track?


“Not everything that can be counted counts…”*

– The test scores of students enrolled in your Christian school may not indicate the quality of education achieved or the enduring character qualities developed.

– The number of appointments in your pregnancy resource center does not indicate whether women and men are choosing life or are becoming better prepared parents.

– The number of evangelistic pamphlets distributed by your church or parachurch ministry does not indicate that you are affectively reaching people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

These numbers are not necessarily wrong to track.

But if what you are counting/tracking is not accomplishing your mission, then they are what we call IBU…Interesting But Useless.

It’s when you and your donors can see how they help accomplish your mission that they become IAU…Impactful And Useful.


“…Not everything that counts can be counted.”*

–  A client of a pregnancy resource center feels loved and supported for the first time in her life…

–  A student enrolled in a discipleship program is more confident in hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice.

– A donor family knew you cared and were praying for them during an extended illness.

–  A trafficking survivor started trusting again.

Could you count these?  Yes you could.  (Statisticians can count anything!)  Are numbers the best way to communicate this kind of life-change?

Photos/recordings, stories, and quotes are much more engaging because we connect with them through our hearts as well as our heads.  Using even a simple image with a number will always make it more memorable.


Can Your Staff, Board, Volunteers, and Donors See How it All Adds Up?

It is never safe to assume people know why a program or activity of your ministry is important and how it helps accomplish your mission.  Other priorities and life commitments, and simple lack of information or understanding all prevent people from knowing how well you are accomplishing life-change.

This is true for board members, staff, volunteers, and donors.

3 Practical Steps to using Outcomes, so you have more money, more people, and more impact to make your God-given vision a reality:

–  Look at your vision and mission statements. What are the most important outcomes (life-change as result of your ministry) if you fulfill your mission?  Are you tracking what shows you are achieving your desired outcomes?

–  Review your brochures, annual reports, year-end letters/emails, website, etc. Are the numbers you are reporting essential to fulfilling your mission?  Is it obvious how the number helps accomplish your mission?  Keep asking the question, “So what happens?” until you get to the phrase that connects back to your mission.  Examples of possible wording for:

  • Pregnancy Resource Center: Your donations of 10,000 diapers and 5,000 packages of wipes were used as essential items new moms and dads could earn as they participated in our parenting growth program, so they are ready to welcome home their new baby.
  • Homeless Ministry: 5 new people without homes and jobs enrolled in our skilled-trades training program which has been able to place 50 men and woman in permanent jobs after their graduation in the past 7 years.  “X” are now living in stable housing.

–  Describe the characteristics of your client, student, ministry participant ten years after engaging with your ministry. What are personal characteristics?  What are lifestyle characteristics?  Is what your ministry doing every day producing these outcomes?  These should all be relatable to your mission.  Example 10-year descriptions might include:

  • Christian Counseling Ministry: Our clients know they are loved by God and know their true identity in Christ.  They recognize the source of their hurts and allow God to heal them.  They make positive personal choices that promote their own mental health.  They engage in healthy, stable relationships and participate in a community of other believers.
  • Evangelism/discipleship ministry:  Our ministry participants are purposeful followers of Jesus in their daily lives.  They are planting churches/discipling others.  Personal growth and the fruit of the Spirit are evident in their lives.  They make God-honoring choices based on Scripture and their relationship with God.


*This statement was made in a 1963 published article by William Bruce Cameron.  It is also many times attributed to Albert Einstein; however a similar statement is found in a 1914 article on religious giving predating Einstein.  So, we’re not sure how to count this one!




Accelerate! Webinar, October 20, 2022


Rules of Development Poster


Strategic Planning Course, Certified Development Professional Program (CDP)


Solicitation Process Course, Certified Development Professional Program (CDP)


Leading & Organizing Course, Certified Development Professional Program (CDP)

Related Posts