The Not-For-Profit Sector is Evolving. Are You?

Written by on March 11, 2014

The not-for-profit sector has undergone monumental changes in recent years that are challenging the way it serves society.

The sector is almost at a saturation point. There are many, many organizations, and not enough of them are adapting to new realities. Because the majority of not-for-profits are cause-based, existing organizations do not adapt to deal with new needs. New organizations are then created to align with the more recent societal issues. Because of this, there are too many not-for-profit organizations competing for donor dollars, and not all are dealing with issues that are still current. A pressing issue today is figuring out how to elegantly decommission organizations that aren’t really relevant any more.

Times Are Changing

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This presents significant challenges for funders as they begin to realize that they have a role to play in how the issues and problems of the community are resolved, because they are the “keepers of the money.” When organizations become irrelevant or ineffective in meeting the needs of the communities they serve, perhaps funders need to have the courage to stop funding.

All this is creating conversations about:

  • Mergers
  • Amalgamation
  • Partnering
  • Collaborating

In the past, merging with similar organizations was seen as a viable alternative to completely closing down a not-for-profit organization.

In today’s climate, it’s not so cut and dried.

There is an understanding that bigger is not always better, that is fuelling a conversation about capacity, resilience and capability, and what that means for individual organizations. But how small can an entity be and still warrant having a Board of Directors and an Executive Director, and at what point does an independent entity serve the public better as just a program within another organization’s sphere?

There’s more academic attention being paid to the not-for-profit area, which means universities and colleges offering degree and diploma programs covering every facet of this sector. This has created a more fulsome body of knowledge surrounding not-for-profit organizations, and enabled a growing understanding of the work and relationships involved. Even so, not-for-profit organizations are facing a litany of challenges, and change is sure to be the constant in the years to come.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • Is your not-for-profit organization going through these very same issues?
  • Is there dysfunction within your team because of them?

It may be just the right time to elicit the services of a certified management consultant or team coach to help your NFP become more effective.