Sunday, November 20, 2005

Managing the Nonprofit Organization (Part Two)

Part two of Drucker's seminal nonprofit management book is entitled "From Mission to Performance," which articulates the whole nonprofit challenge. Currently since I work for a patient advocacy organization (also known as a VHA or "voluntary health agency") that is a real challenge. I find that this is less of a challenge in a more market-driven environment, such as a trade or professional association. I really get bummed out with the chronic underfunding of the more charitable environments. I feel like, if I have to live with that level of uncertainty, I might as well work for myself, because then I could depend on myself at least. But that is another story.

Again, I will structure these notes around the great framework of the section.

1. Converting good intentions into results

Napoleon (no, not Mr. Dynamite!) says you only need three things to win a war. Money, money and more money. However, Drucker says you need more than that to run an effective nonprofit. You need:

1) a plan
2) marketing
3) people
4) money

Questions posed: How do we get our service to the "customer"? How do we market it? How do we get the money we need to provide the service?

2. Winning strategies

"There's an old saying that good intentions don't move mountains, bulldozers do [ed. it must not be that old of a saying]. In nonprofit management, the mission and the plan--if that's all there is--are the good intentions. Strategies are the bulldozers."

Gist is to focus on what you do well and to continuously improve those capabilities. Make sure your mission is on target and that all your definitions work.

You need a plan and you need logistics. Then, "to carry out the process, you need to use oth written and verbal communication. A written process has the great advantage that you can hand out a sheet to everybody, go down the line, check it off and say, 'Any questions on point three?' [...] It invites questions."

Common mistakes: to go from idea into full-scale operations without testing. "Don't omit the pilot stage." Arrogance. Trying to patch up the old when all-new is needed. Don't keep trying something that isn't working. Try twice and then move on.

3. Defining the market: interview with Philip Kotler

Marketing is segmenting, targeting and positioning.

Strategy begins with a mission and leads to a work plan. It ends with the right tools: a kit for volunteers, etc.

Strategy exploits opportunity at the right moment.

4. Building the donor constituency: interview with Dudley Hafner

5. Action implications

"Research, research and more research. Organized attempts to find out who the customer is, what is of value to the customer, how the customer buys."

By Peter Drucker
ISBN # 0887306012