Corporations Can Take Tips from Nonprofits Foundation Head Says Business Executives Must Learn Management Style of Charitable Organizations

By Shelley Donald Coolidge, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 16, 1995 | Go to article overview
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Corporations Can Take Tips from Nonprofits Foundation Head Says Business Executives Must Learn Management Style of Charitable Organizations


Shelley Donald Coolidge, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


FRANCES HESSELBEIN will defend nonprofit organizations down to the last dime. In fact, she believes corporations can learn a thing or two from the more than 1 million nonprofits in the United States.

"Social-sector organizations have to be better managed than for-profit organizations ... because they have no margin of error," says Ms. Hesselbein, who is president of the Peter F. Drucker Foundation for Nonprofit Management in New York.

In the future, she says, corporations are going to have to learn to manage the work force the way today's nonprofits manage volunteers - by leading workers and not containing them.

As the former head of Girl Scouts USA for 14 years, Hesselbein disagrees with the notion that nonprofits are less efficient or less professional than for-profit corporations.

"Some corporations are extremely well managed, some nonprofit organizations are," she says. "It has nothing to do with the sector. It has to do with quality of management."

What differentiates the well-managed from the not-so-well-managed? A well-managed organization, she explains, has three characteristics. It is:

*Mission focused. The mission statement should be short, compelling, and revisited every three years. "Changes are rushing us into the future with such velocity that we cannot just keep the mission as it was 20 or 50 or 100 years," Hesselbein says.

*ValuRIbased. The values of the organization should be articulated to and embodied by the staff and volunteers.

*Demographics driven. The organization should know who its customers are, where they are, and how they think and feel.

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