Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations

Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations

Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations

Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations

Synopsis

Today's nonprofit organizations face an environment characterized by higher levels of competition for funding, clients and audiences, talent, and recognition. In addition, they confront greater pressures from donors, government, and the public to demonstrate efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, and accountability, while intense social needs and problems, as well as the desire for growth, drive them to expand their programs and activities. Collectively, these challenges go to the heart of fundamental issues of mission and strategy. Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations applies and adapts the core body of general management knowledge about mission, strategy, and execution to help nonprofit leaders deal with the special challenges they face. It strives to draw on this knowledge in a way that does not dilute or oversimplify, and at the same time recognizes the unique features of the nonprofit or voluntary sector. James A. Phills develops an action-oriented framework that combines rigorous analysis with the practical challenge of execution and change. In addition to helping nonprofit leaders think through important decisions and make concrete choices, the book also provides a shared language and a discipline that can serve as the basis for more productive discussions between the individuals who lead nonprofits, the business executives who serve on their boards, and the philanthropists who support their organizations and programs. This last objective is critical, because too often nonprofit leaders and board members complain that they can't reap the benefits of the expertise of their supporters, funders, and volunteers from the business sector. Phills suggests that this is often the result of an inability to speak the same language and draw on a common understanding of key concepts, such as competition, strategy, and vision.

Excerpt

In 2001, after many years of research and teaching concentrated almost entirely on business, I shifted the central focus of my academic activity to the creation of social rather than economic value when I became codirector of the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford Business School. While the personal and institutional factors that led to this shift are probably relatively uninteresting to most readers of this book, the fact of the shift is not. This is because it bespeaks the fundamental approach or perspective (or bias, if you will) that informs my approach to the leadership and management of nonprofit organizations: specifically, one that emphasizes the fundamental similarity of the challenges facing managers of organizations, whether they be for-profit, public, or nonprofit, and the relevance of ideas about mission, strategy, and execution across all three sectors. There are important differences, to be sure, but we have yet to bridge the divides between the sectors and take full advantage of the skills, knowledge, and practices that have transcended historical, legal, and intellectual boundaries, although this condition has been changing rapidly in recent years.

Essentially, though the number of nonprofit organizations, as well as the number of people working in them, whether paid or volunteer, has grown dramatically over the last twenty years, the leadership, management, and organizational capability of the sector has been neglected, in terms of both attention and investment. This is not to suggest that nonprofit executives are any less intelligent, talented, or capable than their private-sector . . .

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