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Survey Questions “Well-Run” Not for Profits


Thursday, 30th March 2017 at 4:37 pm
Wendy Williams
What it means for a not-for-profit organisation to be “well-run” is the focus of a new sector survey.


Thursday, 30th March 2017
at 4:37 pm
Wendy Williams


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Survey Questions “Well-Run” Not for Profits
Thursday, 30th March 2017 at 4:37 pm

What it means for a not-for-profit organisation to be “well-run” is the focus of a new sector survey.

Good Foundations, in collaboration with professional services firm PwC, has launched a survey to determine what constitutes a “well-run” not-for-profit organisation and help shape “the right conversations” to achieve impact and change in the sector.  

It builds on research carried out in 2015 which found that being well-run had a strong correlation with having greater impact.

Good Foundations founder Stephen Penny told Pro Bono News he hoped the survey prompted people to reflect on how well their organisation was faring.

“Some parts of the NFP sector are already well-run but we believe there is still considerable improvements to be made – we need to move away from being a sector that is grateful for any scraps it can get and start thinking of it as a critical sector for the well-being of all of society, not just the marginalised and disadvantaged and we need to run it accordingly,” Penny said.

“Funding is getting very constrained, the competition for the dollar is pretty high, so it is important that every dollar you get you have got to use really smartly, and you’ve got to be efficient and you’ve got to be effective in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.

“One of the questions we asked in the first survey was, is there a strong correlation between being well-run and having impact and overwhelmingly, I think 99 per cent of people said ‘yes, there is a correlation’.

“So therefore if we’re all about impact, [and] people think being well-run is going to give you more impact, then why wouldn’t you want to be well-run?”

Penny said the survey was also about defining what is actually meant when people say “well-run”.

“We hear comments like ‘we are a well-run organisation’ or ‘I only support well-run organisations’ all the time – but what does it actually mean? What do people consider when they are making judgements on assessing whether an organisation is well-run or not?” Penny said.

“Even Gretel Packer, when they launched the national foundation… a couple of years ago, one of the three criteria you had to be to be successful, your base level to get across the first line, was be well run. And if I had Gretel’s phone number I would ring her and say ‘how are you going to check that?’… what three questions is she going to ask? Are they the right three questions?”

According to the 2015 findings the two key aspects that organisations needed to focus on to be well-run were having a clear purpose, vision and direction and having great people, with a particular focus on great leadership.

This year the survey has also incorporated a particular focus on leadership, governance and collaboration.    

Penny said they wanted to see how things had changed over time.

“So we are asking probably about half or two thirds of the same questions again to see how that’s changed, whether things have changed in the sector internally or externally, to not for profit organisations, to see whether the mood has shifted,” he said.

“The second things is we’ve actually added some extra emphasis this year on a couple of key topics that were raised in the first survey results, so around leadership, governance and collaboration.

“They are all things that get talked about quite a lot. So we’ve actually got about seven or eight extra questions in that really drill down into those areas for some particular things that we wanted to find out, what were particular issues across the sectors in those areas.”

The survey takes 10 to 12 minutes to complete. It will be open until 12 April.


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.


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