Phil Buchanan's blog
Where are the spokespeople for the nonprofit sector’s distinctive value?
Where are the people who will stand up and take issue when Jack and Suzy Welch write, as they did in their BusinessWeek column in 2007, "In most nonprofit situations, as long as you don't screw up, you're pretty much guaranteed lifetime employment." (Not so at the three nonprofits where I have worked, but true of some of the companies I consulted to in a past job as a corporate management consultant.)
In subtle ways, those of us in the nonprofit sector contribute to the lack of appreciation for its strength when we act as though every good idea came from outside it and simply import the language and frameworks of business. Worse, doing so often leads to poor management choices and reduced effectiveness, because the sector needs frameworks that are responsive to its distinctive context and purpose.
I agree we are likely operating well below our capacity to achieve impact. (I also believe business and government are performing sub-optimally.) I think the reasons are many so I'll just name a few.
Yesterday, I argued that the nonprofit sector is under attack and discussed the critiques of those on the outside who promise that “business” and “market” thinking is the secret to greater effectiveness. But those of us within the sector also do ourselves a disservice by playing into the critiques, and failing to speak with a loud and clear voice about the nonprofit sector.
American philanthropy and the nonprofit sector it supports are under attack. The attack comes both from outside the boundaries of the sector and from within it.
Hyperbole? I don’t think so.
With recent books from Philanthrocapitalism to Uncharitable receiving prominent play—and their authors being feted by those within and outside the sector—there is real danger that an appreciation of the nonprofit sector’s distinctive identity and purpose will be lost.