Good Intentions Don’t Cut It — Guest Contributor

We’ve all heard the maxim: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions!

An expert in the not-for-profit/charity field crafts this month’s guest post.

Rebecca Rodriguez wants to ensure we spend our charitable efforts and money wisely, to accomplish the good and the change we want to see in the world.

Good Intentions Don’t Cut It By Guest Contributor:  Rebecca Rodriguez

According to Peter Drucker, prolific author on executive management and society, founder of the Drucker Institute , in many of his books that focus on the social sector claims good intentions aren’t enough.  At least as it relates to the social sector.  I agree 100%.  If you are a donor going through all the motions of supporting organizations and not knowing that their efforts are affecting positive, meaningful change you are not investing your money wisely. At the other extreme starting or running a nonprofit or a new program without a theory of change, a logic model, getting input from the community and making sure your community even needs the services you want to offer is a waste of energy. Let’s look at some of these components briefly.

Theory of change– According to the Center for Theory of Change , this process is a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why a desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. It is focused on mapping out or “filling in” what has been described as the “missing middle” between what a program or change initiative does (its activities or interventions) and how these lead to desired goals being achieved. It does this by first identifying the desired long-term goals and then works back from these to identify all the conditions (outcomes) that must be in place (and how these relate to one another causally) for the goals to occur.

A Logic Model – is a visual theory of change identifying the challenge or issue, a possible solution and all the considerations that ideally be thought out in painstaking detail, as well as specifics on what success looks like. While developing a program, there are best practice steps one must go through to ensure that the program is going to cause lasting, meaningful impact. Good intentions just don’t cut it for positive sustainable to occur.  Whether you are a donor investing money into a program or organization or an executive director or in charge of programs at a nonprofit ensuring your programs are effective in a positive meaningful way is top priority. A logic model will help you visualize the big picture and all the moving pieces to get you on track.

Community Input – Get the community who are or will be benefiting from the services you offer involved.  There is never just one path to solve a challenge or injustice – there are many.  It takes a village, and you must interact with your village to experience progress.

Environmental Scan– Environmental scanning is an important part of running an organization because it provides information on factors that will affect the organization in the future. We all have blind spots, so this step in due diligence is valuable. The information gathered will allow leadership to proactively respond to external impacts to ensure long term viability of the organization. 

These four disciplines will benefit you as your plan your program. There are many moving parts to launching or running an organization and getting it to a place of sustainability.

Rebecca Rodriguez is the Principal Consultant at For the Philanthropist and author of The Nonprofit Workbook:  Tips & Best Practices for Start-ups Serving the Greater Common Good.  Working with leaders in the social sector, her areas of expertise are organizational & program development, grant administration and sustainability. For more information visit .

  © Jane F. Collen  March 17, 2023™ helping good intentions

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