Thursday, December 16, 2004

Do non-profits work?

501c3s are probably necessary but not as effective as they could or should be in driving social change. Its amazing to think about what this sector could look like in the next few decades, reshaped around effectiveness of result and using technology as the backbone. Personally funded and directed institutes and foundations are possibly more likely to be more effective due to the presence of stronger financial resources and clarity of purpose and goals.

The interently policyesque and fuzzy social change driving nature of the non-profit cause, together with the scaricity of financial and human capital resources and especially the environment conspire to challenge the definition and accomplishment of non-profit goals. The environment means specifically the structure, culture and assumptions of the non-profit sector which dictate the operation of both the internal organization and the larger external ecosystem. This environment is much more difficult to navigate and successfully mold progress within than that of the for-profit world. The for-profit world is much clearer, in the assumed agreed upon objectives and values systems of the participants (invdividuals, companies, industries and economies) that are displayed and serve as the medium for change, mainly in the form of exchange.

The lesson is to organize around result in ways that resonate with diverse value systems and work styles.