The Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) could play it conservatively. With a network of over 900 members and a series of respected programs, why rock the boat?
But that’s not how Jim White, NAO’s executive director, does things. He sees it as his role to “positively disrupt” the status quo. That’s how systems improve, and how real progress is made.
NAO offers a range of training, capacity-building and leadership development services, and the organization advocates for policies that support nonprofits’ interests. Still, he sees needs and opportunities.
“Nonprofits have a sacred pact with the public,” he says. He therefore promotes a new code of ethics established by Independent Sector. While nonprofits clearly do valuable work, organizations can do more to measure impact and demonstrate effectiveness.
That’s why NAO is partnering with Public Interest Management Group on a pilot project for PIMG’s new organizational assessment process, Success Factor Analysis. White believes that, “this pilot fits perfectly into this need for measurable results. It will help nonprofits understand their business models and operate effectively. It will also help us all understand best management practices.”
Twenty NAO members will participate in the pilot, to be conducted this spring. PIMG will be issuing individual assessment reports to participating organizations, with recommendations on improvement strategies. PIMG will also be analyzing data to uncover patterns in management practices associated with success. This process could upset a few apple carts, as some long-held assumptions may be challenged.
Jim White is no stranger to disruption or system change. As a frontline operative for Mercy Corps, an innovative international aid and development NGO, he helped war- and disaster-torn populations in Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea recover, and helped establish new welfare systems in these hard-hit regions prior to coming to Oregon.
The Northwest is fortunate to have NAO and its talented staff. In a sometimes fragmented world, it’s great to see collective action that works, quietly and confidently, but never complacently.