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The Balanced Scorecard

GCN’s Nonprofit Consulting Group’s strategic approach to building a high-impact organization.

As nonprofits, the mission drives everything we do. But to reach your goals, you need more than drive: You need a map. Though a new strategy may not be necessary, you definitely need a way to think about every facet of your nonprofit—including everything you do, every asset you possess, and every objective you aim for—as well as how to fit them together to make the greatest possible impact.

That’s what GCN’s Nonprofit Consulting Group provides for our clients, using the Balanced Scorecard Framework: a reliable way to determine priorities and objectives that makes it clear to anyone supporting the organization—internally or externally—how their role contributes to mission success.

“The result of a Balanced Scorecard strategy is a roadmap that lays out not just what the organization is trying to achieve, but how it will get there,” says Vice President of Consulting Tim Johnson. “Our custom approach ensures nonprofits identify what must be accomplished across the entire breadth of the organization, from people and programs to finances and resource development.”

The “balance” part of a Balanced Scorecard comes from considering the organization from four perspectives: financial, organizational capital, internal processes, and mission. Each of these perspectives builds on the one before it, and serves to support the nonprofit’s highest purpose—its mission. The approach is nuanced, and takes some time to learn, but each perspective can be understood generally in terms of one central question:

Mission: What do we accomplish for our clients and stakeholders?

Internal Processes: What do we do internally to be effective in the marketplace?

Organizational Capital: What kind of people and technologies enable our business processes?

Financial: What do we achieve financially to effectively meet our mission?

The “scorecard” is what you get when you’ve accounted for all the activities of your nonprofit in terms of the four perspectives. With all your people, processes, and resources documented and organized, you can understand not only how all the pieces of your operation work together—including every stakeholder’s individual part—but also the gaps keeping you from meeting goals and achieving maximum impact.

With a Balanced Scorecard for your organization, it becomes easier to assess the state of the nonprofit and plan for its future, most notably in the form of a comprehensive strategic plan—but it also brings clarity to day-to-day work and decision-making, linking the work of every staffer, board member, volunteer, and donor to on-the-ground community impact.


Contact our Nonprofit Consulting Group team at consulting@gcn.org to learn more.

Learn more about the Balanced Scorecard approach and how
GCN’s Nonprofit Consulting Group puts it into practice:

Consider the Scorecard
An introduction to this powerful strategic planning approach, which Consulting VP Tim Johnson been implementing successfully in the corporate sector and with nonprofits for the last 22 years. 
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Got Questions? What your nonprofit strategy should answer
"Don’t treat this article like a checklist," says Johnson: "Instead, use it to understand the types of questions that need to be answered, and keep in mind that every nonprofit also has some unique questions to answer." 
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How a Balanced Scorecard transforms your development efforts
“Your fundraising goals must be about more than covering expenses,” explains Senior Consultant Karin Douglas. "They should aim to build a solid foundation for your organization’s future. That requires a complete strategic plan, one that anticipates where your organization, and the community it supports, are heading."
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