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Nonprofit Organizational Maturity

Nonprofit Organizational Maturity

Organizational Maturity Model: What Does It Mean? Why Does It Matter to Nonprofits? 

Your nonprofit’s organizational culture comprises routines, practices, and generally accepted rules for how everyone working in your nonprofit does things. Organizational cultures move through various stages of maturity, and an organizational maturity model enables your board to assess your current state, measure your results, and set the stage for continued maturity.

Groups and individuals have developed several organizational maturity models to inspire your board to ensure that you have the best tools in place to reap the benefits of organizational maturity. 

What Is Organizational Maturity?

The organizational maturity definition for nonprofits is their ability to learn, adjust, adapt, and improve results. The goal of focusing on organizational maturity is to gradually take your nonprofit to the utmost level of maturity in your practices and processes. 

Your nonprofit’s level of readiness and capability is reflective of your organizational maturity. Your organization’s leadership and people, along with its processes and technologies, indicate its organizational maturity. 

Organizational maturity occurs in stages. Lower-level processes must be established and completed before you can reach the next higher level of maturity. 

Each level gives you benchmarks to assess your progress. Organizational maturity models enable you to plan for how and when you can move up to the next level of maturity. By measuring your progress, your board will have a roadmap that leads your nonprofit to the next stage.

Organizational maturity models improve processes in various areas, including finance, human resources, project management, overall organizational effectiveness, and digital maturity. 

Why Should Organizational Maturity Matter to Your Nonprofit?

Active nonprofit boards have busy agendas, keeping a lot on their plates. So, why should you add the issue of organizational maturity to your list of tasks? 

Simply put, making strides toward organizational maturity will help your board improve its governance practices. Here are some of the benefits you can expect to gain from working on a plan for organizational maturity:

  • Gives you tools to address the strengths and needs of your nonprofit 
  • Allows your board to improve decision-making
  • Provides greater insight into where your board is spending funds
  • Improves efficiency and productivity by giving you insight into inefficient practices and processes
  • Conjoins all information into a single source you can trust, providing you with better quality data
  • Improves business relations with vendors, stakeholders, and benefactors

Rather than develop your own plan forward, your board may want to review the existing models for organizational maturity to assess the best fit. 

What Are Some Organizational Maturity Models? 

An organizational maturity model describes your nonprofit’s stages as you establish, implement, change, and improve your processes. It also describes the characteristics of each stage. 

Various models have different organizational maturity stages. We’ve provided a brief overview of some of the more popular organizational maturity models for your board’s review. 

Capability Maturity Model Integration

  • Initial — processes are chaotic, reactive, and not clearly defined
  • Repeatable — processes are established and identifiable, and they require order to maintain them
  • Defined — processes are clear, standardized, and documented 
  • Managed — processes can be managed by gathering details on how they flow and how well they flow
  • Optimizing — processes can be improved by gathering feedback, making adjustments, and trying new ideas

Infosys KM Maturity Model (based on knowledge of acquisition, dissemination, and reuse)

  • Default — creating organizational knowledge through training and managing it
  • Reactive — sharing knowledge only when needed
  • Aware — developing a knowledge management system that encourages sharing knowledge
  • Convinced — rooting knowledge management throughout the enterprise and reusing knowledge 
  • Sharing — incorporating knowledge sharing as part of the organizational culture

In the interest of digital transformation, here’s a look at a popular digital organizational maturity model by Forrester. 

Forrester’s Digital Maturity Model 5.0

  • Culture — driving innovation and ensuring effective use of technology
  • Technology — adopting technology and using it to its fullest extent
  • Organization — leveraging technology to support governance and your digital strategy 
  • Insights — leveraging technology to measure data and use it to improve effectiveness and efficiency

These four components can assess which of the following stages your nonprofit’s digital maturity level is in. 

Organizational Maturity Stages in Forrester’s Model 

  • Skeptics ­— giving no thought or credence to digital innovations 
  • Adopters — taking preliminary steps to adopt digital and sticking to proven strategies
  • Collaborators — implementing digital tools and strategies on a minimal level, without using them to drive decision-making
  • Differentiators — leveraging data to streamline processes and continuing to innovate

Once you have an organizational maturity model in place, you can start moving up the levels by measuring your progress. 

How to Measure Organizational Process Maturity

As with any process where you want to make improvements, it’s prudent to develop a plan to gauge your successes. By having a standardized scale and framework, your board will establish a common language, and it will have a baseline for which you can measure your future results. 

Your measurement framework should involve all the individuals who use your processes and systems. Along the same lines, it should factor in the capabilities of the individuals and their ability to adjust and adapt as you make improvements.

In addition to people, your framework should also account for all processes and how well they’re performing. This includes assessing defects in processes, including how well processes flow regardless of which individuals are involved in them. 

Measuring organizational process maturity should also factor in the accuracy and reliability of using financial and operational data. 

Finally, assess the technology tools you’re using and measure the results at each organizational maturity stage of the model you’re using. 

Making strides toward organizational maturity takes time, but it doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. An excellent first step is to review the existing organizational maturity models and decide which will best guide you to your nonprofit’s goals. From there, it’s a matter of developing a plan to move you through the first stage and measuring your results. 



Theresa Sintetos

Content Strategist and Operations Manager with six years of growth in the same company, moving up from social media specialist to executive strategy and director of operations. Skilled in research, writing and editing broad range of content.

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