Wayne Elsey, Soles4SoulsEach director at Soles4Souls is responsible for providing me a weekly one sheeter that gives me a high-level grasp on what’s happening. I want to know what objectives they are working through, what challenges they are facing, how they compare to budgeted vs. actual expenses, and what impact they are making. Most importantly, I want them to find the story in the numbers.

I naturally notice discrepancies between what someone says and what the numbers reflect. When dissonance exists, something is wrong. Either we aren’t measuring the right things or a disconnect exists from the ideas and the implementation of those ideas.

It’s easy to get tied to our ideas and work to convince others that we are on the right path. Eventually there has to be substance that supports the direction we are headed. If there isn’t, then we are chasing a dream. Not that there is anything wrong with chasing dreams, but Soles4Souls hasn’t accomplished all that it has because we chased a dream alone. We constantly measure ourselves to find the story in the numbers because it affirms the direction we are headed and the investments we are making are consistent with the expectations of those who have invested in us to distribute shoes, clothes, and hope to those in need.

What we say about ourselves is not nearly as important as what the results of our work say about us. Nonprofit leaders sometimes think they can fool donors and the general public. As the saying goes, “The proof is in the taste of the pudding.” It’s not what could be but what is that’s most important. Having an accurate grasp on “what is” is the only path to what could be.

Numbers hold us accountable to complete the commitments we have made to ourselves and the promises we have made to our donors. When a disconnect occurs, it creates a rift that will ultimately distract the organization and confuse the donor.

How are you looking for the story in the numbers as confirmation you are investing time, talent, and dollars in the things that matter?