Theory of Change
The Nonprofit Association of Oregon’s Theory of Change articulates the way we work with nonprofit organizations, their leaders, and society as a whole. Our Theory expresses the results we are working toward and the underlying beliefs that animate our mission. This Theory of Change—along with feedback loops that keep NAO in touch with organizations, funders, and partners throughout Oregon—provide a basis for accountability, continual learning, and the evolution of vital programs and services that support the nonprofit sector.
NAO recognizes that Oregon’s nonprofits are under ever‐increasing pressures to make timely, strategic decisions to maximize the impact of their charitable missions. NAO accomplishes our mission in service to nonprofits through four key strategies, each of which includes several supporting strategies.
1. Develop effective and inclusive nonprofit leadership by:
- Playing an active role in developing current and future nonprofit leaders, using a lens of equity, inclusion, resilience, and cross‐generational learning
- Growing NAO’s leadership development offerings, including executive coaching, executive transition services, and peer learning opportunities
- Working in collaboration with professional networks, capacity builders, and higher learning institutions to advance nonprofit leadership development
2. Grow the capacity of nonprofit organizations and networks by:
- Utilizing the most essential tools and frameworks for adaptive, effective, and resilient nonprofits
- Leveraging NAO’s frameworks and toolkits through members, networks, and partnerships
- Promoting dialogue and learning about impact measurement at the organization and sector levels
- Adopting, implementing, and promoting nonprofit standards of excellence in Oregon
3. Build the nonprofit sector’s voice and visibility by:
- Establishing evaluation and survey practices and working with partners to collect and disseminate data about Oregon’s nonprofit sector
- Establishing policy platforms, acting as a convener, and amplifying the nonprofit voice, ensuring that our sector’s issues are considered in public policymaking
- Raising awareness of the essential role and impact of nonprofits in Oregon
4. Strengthen NAO by:
- Implementing our Theory of Change, value proposition, and sustainable business model, which are understood by funders and drive membership growth
- Establishing methodologies for evaluation and impact measurement
- Reinforcing NAO’s culture as a learning organization
The results we are dedicated to achieving require a results‐based accountability framework that can guide NAO and our stakeholders to success. Using our four core strategies over the next three to five years, NAO is focused on achieving and evaluating the following results:
- Nonprofit leaders are developed to reflect Oregon’s growing diversity
- Nonprofits have the tools, knowledge, and capabilities to achieve their missions
- Nonprofits are better connected for greater learning and collaboration
- NAO is a trusted source for nonprofit management information and practices, as well as sectorwide data and trends
- Opinion leaders recognize the essential roles of nonprofits in our communities
- Nonprofit sector voices and issues are heard and incorporated in public policymaking
- NAO’s development (Theory of Change, value proposition, and business model) leads to additional members, partners, and resources
NAO’s mission, vision, strategies, and results are grounded in a set of beliefs about the value of nonprofit organizations and the sector, the importance of leadership development and capacity building, and the essential role of advocacy in achieving the collective aspirations of Oregon nonprofits in serving the public good.
We believe the nonprofit sector strengthens the fabric of our democracy and our communities. Nonprofits create many public benefits such as opportunities to participate in civic affairs, enrich cultural life, stand up for the underrepresented, provide needed services, generate significant economic impact, address inequities, and create innovative solutions to community issues.
Nonprofit leaders are passionate and creative; they excel at mobilizing Oregonians around important missions. In our increasingly diverse state, we need leaders that reflect our evolving demographics. Because we live in a more networked world in which collaboration is our context, leadership capabilities must be developed among multiple leaders in addition to executive leaders.
Investments in leadership development and capacity building are crucial to the effectiveness, adaptability, and resilience of Oregon nonprofit leaders, organizations, networks, and the sector as a whole. Through leadership development we nurture new nonprofit leaders and sustain experienced leaders. Through capacity building we grow the capabilities and systems needed to achieve shared visions, collaborate strategically, develop resources, and deepen community impact.
Advocacy is an essential function of the nonprofit sector. Complex issues require systemic change including policy change. By working together in the public policy arena, nonprofits amplify their voices and increase their influence.
Our Core Values
Our core values are the principles that guide our internal and external actions and drive our accountability to each other and our stakeholders. We are inspired by these values and we aspire to fully live these values.
- Collaboration: We are better together. We encourage strategic collaboration to bring out the best solutions and strengthen the fabric of our communities.
- Equity and Inclusion: We value diversity in many forms. We are committed to strengthening nonprofits as change agents that contribute to a just and equitable society.
- Excellence: We challenge ourselves to do great work. We actively seek feedback to continually improve and evolve our practices and services.
- Impact: We make a difference. We focus on results that matter to nonprofit leaders, organizations, networks, the sector, and ultimately, society.
- Learning: We are curious, ask good questions, and listen well. We believe continual learning is essential for adaptation, innovation, resilience, and relevance.
- Service: We are responsive and flexible. We build relationships. We meet people where they are, developing experiences, content, and outcomes that advance nonprofit missions.
- Stewardship: We are effective stewards of the financial, human, and natural resources.