Measuring Success: How Nonprofit Leaders Can Look Beyond the Numbers (Megha Desai)

June 2022

How do you measure nonprofit success?  Unlike the for-profit sector, where metrics are clear, the charitable sector isn't always as straightforward. In episode #161 of Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership, Megha Desai takes a hard look at how, as nonprofit leaders, we measure success and how we communicate that success to our donors and key constituents.  Megha explains how she makes decisions based on the people she serves then uses the data to validate rather than the other way around, something large institutional donors have been shifting towards.  Having converted her family foundation to a public 501(c)(3) programmatic nonprofit, she shares some unique opportunities and significant challenges the organization faced. Do you allow mission creep to acquire funding?  Learn how to resist designated giving and remain mission focused.

"Success isn't always measured by the money in a person's pocket, but with the dignity in a person's soul."     


Megha is President of the Desai Foundation, a public foundation that aims to elevate the health and livelihood of women and children through community programs in the U.S. and India. She helped transform the organization's mission, work, and message leading to its transformation from a small family foundation to a robust public foundation. Her leadership has helped put the Desai Foundation on the map through heralded events, like Diwali on the Hudson and the Lotus Festival, along with highly impactful programming leveraging strong partners on the ground in the US and India. The Desai Foundation focuses on sustainable development through vocational classes, health camps, community volunteer outreach, and sanitary napkin programs. The organization, to date, has impacted over a million lives in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Madhya Pradesh, India; Metro-Boston; and Harlem, New York. Megha currently sits on the advisory boards of several start-ups and non-profits, including Take Two Academy, TYE Boston TiE Young Entrepreneurs, and NPR's Generation Listen. Megha was nominated for India New England's Woman of the Year Award in 2017. Megha holds a B.A. in Economics from Barnard College of Columbia University and completed the Executive Program for Social Entrepreneurship at Stanford Business School.


About PMA Nonprofit Leadership 

As a firm, PMA Nonprofit Leadership is constantly developing content and programs to help you in three distinct ways.  The first way is to help you be a thought leader in the nonprofit sector by producing weekly content through our podcast Your Path to Nonprofit Leadership. The second way is through individual coaching, training and our unique Mastermind Nonprofit Leadership program. The third way is to help your nonprofit organization through support of its strategic planning, board & staff development, and fundraising. Through our exclusive partnership with the Institute for Philanthropic Leadership, we also  guide aspiring nonprofit leaders through the virtual New Development Professionals cohort training program, as well as the annual Leadership Gift School, now entering its 10th cohort season.  Let us know how we can help you! Join our community by signing up for our free resources here, and schedule a call if you'd like to learn more about ways we can help you on your journey to nonprofit leadership.