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Researching Nonprofit Organizations

Here are some questions to consider when researching a nonprofit organization. You will find detailed responses to these questions in the organization’s ConnectingLA profile.

 

Overview

• What is the history of this organization?
• What kind of change is this organization seeking to accomplish?
• Where does this organization work and how is it having an impact on the community? 
• What support does this organization need to more effectively deliver on its mission?

Programs

• What programs and/or services is this organization providing?
• What kind of impact are these programs having? How is progress and success measured?

Management

• Is the leadership of the organization stable and qualified?
• Is the staff of the organization reflective of the communities it serves?
• Are the necessary business practices in place for this organization to plan for the future and operate in a responsible and effective manner?

Governance

• How active and engaged is the organization’s board?
• Is the composition of the board reflective of the population that the organization serves?
• Are appropriate practices in place to support responsible and effective governance?

Financials

• Is the organization solvent?  If the organization shows a deficit in the most recent fiscal year, is this episodic or does it have a history of operating deficits?
• Program vs. Administrative expenses are not a reliable indicator of effectiveness, quality and impact. Does the organization’s overall financial information tell a story that seems reasonable for the results and impact it achieves?
• Does the organization rely on a single or small group of funders and donors or does it have diversified sources of revenue?
• Does the organization have: Cash reserves? A line of credit? An endowment? If the organization has any one or more of these, does it have a board-approved policy that governs the access, use and replenishment of these funds?
Please note: the Notes Section within the Financial Tab provides additional information that may not be immediately evident in the charts and graphs provided.