The heightened importance of strong nonprofit management calls attention to a wide range of management practices that we call tools. Despite their importance, to date there has been no systematic attempt to understand what tools are being used or how effective they are. This report aims to fill that knowledge gap. It creates a "consumer report" for nonprofit leaders seeking to apply one or more of 25 popular tools to the challenges at hand. These tools can help organizations live up to their missions and meet funders' expectations for results. Many of the tools on our list, such as scenario planning and benchmarking, migrated from the business world. Others, such as funding models and constituent engagement, evolved specifically with nonprofit needs in mind.
To understand how many tools a typical nonprofit uses, for what purposes, and how they perform, The Bridgespan Group developed a survey of the top nonprofit tools and trends in the social sector, nominated by a panel of more than two dozen practitioners, funders, and intermediaries. Overall findings confirm nonprofits' widespread use of management tools and their interest in using more in the future. The survey also provides insights into how well those tools help leaders respond to trends in the sector. It is our intent that this report will be repeated at intervals and should serve to stimulate questions, test practices, spark experiments, and ultimately help managers to get better results.