Yvonne Zipp wrote a nice article about a Christian Science Monitor-designated Difference Maker. He is Mario Morino, a philanthropist based in Rocky River, Ohio, outside Cleveland. He wrote the free book Leap of Reason to help large nonprofits demonstrate that they are serving the public in the ways they think they are.
Zipp writes that in 2009, after a day of meetings with three different nonprofit boards, Morino was about to burst from frustration.
“At each, a board was discussing how it would assess its nonprofit group. The problem? ‘There wasn’t a nonprofit executive in the room,’ he says.” How could the people who run nonprofits and the boards that assess them ever get agreement on worthwhile measures?
“Morino, who owned his own software development business in the 1980s before setting up the Morino Institute and later Venture Philanthropy Partners, went home and fired off one e-mail, then another. After a fourth, he had what became the core of his book, Leap of Reason, which has more than 40,000 copies in circulation so far – an impressive number for a book about the rarefied topic of nonprofit management. …
The book isn’t aimed at small nonprofits or “civic-minded individuals, Morino says. ‘They represent the strongest core of philanthropy in the US. You don’t want to touch that.’ He likens these folks to his long-ago neighbors in Cleveland, where, ‘if somebody’s building a garage, everyone helped build the garage.’
However, “of the 1.5 million nonprofit groups in the US, 40,000 have budgets of more than $1 million, according to Bridgespan [an organization that consults to nonprofits]. They are the targets of Leap of Reason.”
More here on how the data-driven approach outlined in the book has helped some large nonprofits become more effective.
By the way, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, where WordPress blogger Judith once worked as a writer, addresses the same issue. And Zipp’s article lists other organizations that advise charities.
Photograph of Mario Morino, Ken Blaze / Special to the Christian Science Monitor