|There's been some discussion on the boards recently about paradigms of non-profit management that gets phrased "Should a non-profit be run like a business?" It's a funny phrasing. There are well-run businesses and poorly run businesses. Honestly run businesses and criminally run businesses. I'm not sure what it means to be run like a business -- but it's clear that question is asking something about to what extent fiscal considerations should govern non-profit operations.|
So lets begin by asking, "how high are such considerations currently on the agenda of the non-profit leader?" I'm glad you asked. The answer is, right at the top. In a study I've quoted before, the consulting firm Accenture surveyed more than 200 non-profit executives. When asked what the top five issues were that they confronted in managing their organization, the execs listed:
In other words, increasing revenue and retaining staff - issues that would certainly be high on the on the agenda of any small business owner as well. So you could say these non-profits are already being run like businesses. But maybe they could be run better. What the execs did not list were ways to increase the use they got out of their existing resources by increasing operational efficiency. The study recommended the following approaches:
- Expanding the current donor base
- Recruiting high-impact board members
- Increasing donations from current donors
- Attracting and retaining skilled staff
- Increasing donor loyalty and retention
All of these in effect are efforts to allow more of the existing financial and human resources to flow directly into mission by lowering administrative costs, eliminating procedural barriers, and tapping underutilized organizational and community assets. If this is taken as a definition of efficiency, I think it's something both businesses and non-profits could use more of. I know mine could.
- Make better use of technology.
- Overcome inherent limitations in headcount by more effectively organizing and managing volunteers as an extension of paid staff.
- Explore and adopt new collaborative business models with complementary organizations.
- Convince corporate and private-sector donors to fund general operations instead of “signature” or “vanity” programs.
- Adopt appropriate metrics that enable organizations to evaluate the success and impact of their delivery of services and programs.
- Engage board members to ensure quality governance structures.
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Labels: npmanagement, nptech