This case study shares an example of how a nonprofit organization with multiple program areas approached developing its intended impact and theory of change.

Nonprofits with distinct program areas or service lines are sometimes described as multi- service organizations (MSOs). Often their program areas function fairly independently of each other and have different funding streams. MSOs generally fall into one of two types: (1) MSOs with one population of focus that engages in multiple programs, often in a continuum, or (2) MSOs with multiple populations of focus, where each population participates in a single standalone program.

For both types of MSOs embarking on a refresh of their intended impact and theory of change, it is helpful to define what success looks like both from a program area and an organization-wide perspective. It’s also important to articulate how the different program areas each contribute toward the organization-wide intended impact.

MSOs that provide a continuum of supports to one population of focus should clarify how their program areas link to one another and aim to understand how many clients are actually moving through the continuum as intended. Their final theory of change should help explain why the organization is doing this collection of activities, and how each element helps lead to the impact they aspire to achieve.

IMPACCT Brooklyn

Mission: To create thriving, safe, sustainable communities in Brooklyn, keeping households in place for the long term.

Intended Impact: Households making 80 percent of area median income or less in Central Brooklyn will be fully housed in sufficient units with supportive services that help them gain independent living skills and improve their mental and physical well-being.

Theory of Change:

  • We build, preserve, and market affordable housing because fulfilling the fundamental right to affordable housing is a cornerstone for establishing human well-being, preventing displacement, and enhancing economic, racial, and cultural diversity.
  • We provide social services designed to help low-income households remain stably housed because living below the poverty line affects every aspect of a person’s life.
  • We conduct community and civic engagement to help inform, organize, and galvanize members of the community, because residents, acting together toward common objectives, can oppose unnecessary displacement, demand accountability from private developers and public officials, and otherwise contribute to the greater good.

Field: Community development

Revenue: $5.6 million (2021) fiscal year

Geography/footprint: Brooklyn, New York

Read the full article about IMPACCT Brooklyn at The Bridgespan Group.