2019 Blackbaud
Accountable Impact

A Data-Driven Exploration into Social Good Leadership

Welcome to the 2019 Blackbaud Accountable Impact Study! We’ve collected and analyzed input from over 1,000 professionals in the nonprofit and social good sector to better understand what good looks like.

How do leaders lead? What drives revenue growth and increased service delivery? How do pacesetters in diverse nonprofit fields like education, healthcare, human services, faith, the arts, and philanthropy maximize impact on target communities?

The new, never-before-published data gathered in the Blackbaud Accountable Impact Study unequivocally reveals that social good success is built on two common factors: excellence in resource stewardship (accountability) and an outcomes-first orientation (impact focus).

Lessons from Accountability Leaders

The Study examines how accomplishing KPI objectives in eight functional accounting sub-competencies propels overall organizational success.

Benchmark data details differences in the financial management of people, process, and technology resources typically found at “leader” vs. “learner” organizations. Top executives and accounting professionals alike will benefit from data-driven insights on how their organizations can prioritize and ensure accountability success. Areas of focus include: financial reporting, budgeting, cash management, credit managements, program costing, operational costing, fund accounting, and spending efficiency.

Key Findings: Accountability

Accountability is more than an obligation; it’s a growth opportunity.
Nonprofit leaders must think differently about accounting and accountability. While often considered more of a “back-office” obligation, data shows that high-accountability organizations are 24% more likely to increase revenue and service delivery.
The link between strong stewardship and increased growth applies to all organization types.
Schools, healthcare providers, faith communities, human service providers, arts organizations—nonprofits across all sectors saw a direct relationship between high accountability and growth. The connection between strong stewardship and performance also held across organizations of all revenue bands and varying revenue models.
Accounting enablement is key; resources drive results.
Nonprofit organizations reporting adequate people, process, and technology enablement across all eight accounting competencies were 274% more likely to report they reached the performance achievement benchmarks for these competencies.
Nonprofit professionals have more confidence in their accounting staff than their accounting technology.
In seven out of eight accounting competencies, more respondents indicated they felt they had “knowledgeable” and “skilled” human resources than “adequate” technology.
Nonprofits often lack best practice documentation to guide common accounting workflows.
For instance, 18% of respondents indicated that their organization did not have any “documented processes” in place for its cash management.
Nonprofits need more enablement to ensure spending efficiency.
Only 44% of nonprofit professionals felt their organization had full enablement across all three categories of people, processes, and technology to ensure spending efficiency.

Snapshot of Impact Focus Success

The Study reveals an important connection between quantifying benefits delivered to target communities and increasing overall revenue and service delivery.

Benchmark data offers lessons for how to prioritize impact focus investments in people, processes, and technology across planning, funding, operations and programs, and reporting. Areas of attention examined within the “impact focus virtuous circle” include: program design, funding requests, service delivery, outputs tracking, outcomes tracking, cost assessment, and funder reporting.

Key Findings: Impact Focus

Organizational impact focus is key to delivering meaningful organizational results.
Nonprofits with demonstrably higher impact focus—based on standardized measures of their organizational outcomes orientation—were 37% more likely to report having increased both revenue and services delivered in the previous year.
Impact focus transcends revenue model as a nonprofit success factor.
Highly impact-focused nonprofits achieve better results regardless of revenue model. Organizations that relied on grants, individual contributions, major gifts, and other revenue sources were all more likely to report improved service delivery when demonstrating high-impact focus maturity.
Service delivery is on the rise for most social good organizations.
We surveyed over 1,000 social good sector professionals. 71% indicated that their organization delivered more services last year than the year before.
Impact focus enablement is key; resources drive results.
Impact focus results depend on adequate resourcing. Organizations that reported adequate people, process, and technology enablement across seven key operational areas were 312% more likely to report an impact focus competitive advantage in all seven areas.
The ability to effectively communicate impact focus to funders is critical to driving mission support and service delivery.
Organizations capable of communicating their impact focus maturity as a competitive differentiator within funding requests were 38% more likely to report that they had increased revenue and services delivered last year.
Technology and process control represent critical resource shortcomings for many nonprofits trying to establish impact focus.
While nonprofits are generally confident in the human resources that they have assigned to impact focus responsibilities, they report being under-resourced in terms of technology and process control.

Inside the Blackbaud Accountable Impact Study

Download the full Study today to get insights and detailed data covering:

  • Core accounting areas such as financial reporting, budgeting, cash management, credit management, and spending efficiency
  • Nonprofit-specific financial competencies like program costing, operational costing, and fund accounting
  • Benchmarks for accounting resource levels in the nonprofit sector
  • Identification of which accounting KPIs correlate most tightly with performance success
  • A wealth of statistical information drawn from over 1,000 respondents across dozens of data points, all designed to drive your mission forward

Can't get enough? Our team of accounting experts will work with you to create your own personalized accountability evaluation. Email us at accountable.impact@blackbaud.com.

Get your copy today.

Accountable Impact Resources