Friday, May 04, 2007

Zeitgeist: Scale for Non-profits

From a post on the Artful Manager Blog about scale and non-profits.
"With all the obstacles preventing precise measurements of effectiveness and program quality in the nonprofit sector, it is very easy to use size as a proxy for impact and to embrace the idea that programs serving large numbers of people are contributing more to public welfare than those targeting smaller populations. In this sense, scale is much easier to measure than effectiveness and it represents an appealing way to change the conversation.
But the danger of such a move lies, of course, in the fact that scale is not a particularly good proxy for effectiveness and that many large programs do not deserve the support they receive, while many smaller programs deserve greater acclaim. Scale is not the problem in the nonprofit sector, nor is it the answer."

An article linked from this post: How Nonprofits Get Really Big
"Further, the way funding flows to organizations this large is neither completely random nor illogical. On the contrary, we identified three important practices common among nonprofits that succeeded in building large-scale funding models: (1) They developed funding in one concentrated source rather than across diverse sources; (2) they found a funding source that was a natural match to their mission and beneficiaries; and (3) they built a professional organization and structure around this funding model."