Nonprofit organizations management is receiving a larger and more respectable place in the overall literature on management. As is already well recognized - nonprofit organizations, despite their wide variety, have certain unique attributes, not existing in other types of organizations, namely business and public organizations. They are based, at least in part, on philanthropic resources (financial and human), and as the issue of the ownership of the organization is unclear, they have a governance structure that represents their diverse stake-holders. These attributes, as the book so eloquently demonstrates, create in their turn unique challenges to their managers, who need to address a whole variety of problems unknown to managers of public and business organizations. Furthermore, as nonprofit organizations are not merely a organizational tool to carry out certain collective tasks but have a strong base in participatory democratic theory, as they express the tenet of freedom of association and the right of people to organize around issues of their own concern, managing nonprofit organizations becomes a value-laden task. This aspect is even more pronounced in frameworks where nonprofit organizations work together with business and/or public entities in joint projects, as is more and more the case lately, where the differential identity and orientation of the actors has to be expressed. Thus, in nonprofit organizations the manager has to function on at least two levels. The practical level, where he or she needs to manage budgets, personnel, programs, etc. and a conceptual level where all these activities have to fit within a broader value-base and a belief system that the specific organization subscribes to and tries to promote, which also fits within a larger system of democratic participation.
Functioning as managers in nonprofit organizations or studying this domain calls for a wide range of perspectives, conceptualizations and orientations as well as the ability to integrate them all. The book by Rita Mano does exactly that. Basing herself on theories of organizations and organizational change, management theories and practice and nonprofit theories, the author provides an excellent knowledge infrastructure of the complexities within which the nonprofit manager functions and the kinds of problems and issues he/she has to cope with and solve.
Prof. Benjamin Gidron, Director
Israeli Social Enterprise Research Center (ISERC)
Former Director of the Israeli Center for Third sector Research (ICTR)
Ben Gurion University of the Negev
Managing nonprofit organizations is a challenging task. Academic and practicing individuals and groups are often puzzled with so many aspects and details to be considered in the analysis and understanding of the “behavior” of these new and yet old expressions of our civil interest in the welfare of other individuals and groups. The book seeks to provide the important and often difficult to decipher aspects in our encounter with the carriers of social justice and human services in the modern society.
The first three chapters engage in a general background of existing theoretical approaches. The first chapter discusses how nonprofit and other organizations are similar and different using various theoretical approaches. The chapter points to how unique and hence problematic issues lie behind currently used models of management; the quasi-economic models, the “heterogeneity assumption”, the principle of “lack of symmetry”, and the theory of consumer control are brought up form the existing literature to illuminate how conceiving nonprofits in our mind necessitates a wide basis of knowledge about their formation in the first place. Then in the second chapter an overview of basic organizational and management theories is provided referring to the effects of environment in organizing and managing organizational inputs, processes and outputs. Two approaches are presented: the technical approach focusing on efficient outcomes and the institutional approach focusing on the social scope and vision of the organizations. The effects of the stakeholders are presented as well to discuss the complex relationships between nonprofit organizations and their multiple constituents: Following this general orientation the way nonprofit human service organizations, communities and grass root groups define their official and operative goals is discussed showing the challenges associated with measuring performance because of the differences between stakeholders’ expectations.
After the completion of the general background the book takes a deeper look into the internal processes. The fourth, fifth and sixth chapter discuss the significance of the organization’s structure in the detection of environmental shifts using the concepts of mechanical and organic forms that enable flexibility in coping with threats. A central part of the structure is the composition of paid staff, volunteers and boards. Particular attention is paid to the involvement of volunteers. A discussion of traditional and current aspects of volunteering is provided highlighting newer forms of volunteering considering social status, recognition and political interests as part of the new needs of volunteers nowadays. Motivations, burnout and the need to develop proper strategies that encourage and retain volunteers are discussed as well.
Than the sixth and seven chapters raise many of the new challenges in the management of nonprofits: first and most acute is the organization’s need to develop proper coping strategies. The scope of pro-active and re-active coping methods is developed to discuss organizational change, marketing and commercialization as proactive methods and crisis management, learning as reactive methods. The last chapter introduces networking issues involved in the management of nonprofits including social networks.
A summary is provided to incorporate the variety of issues affecting practices and performance in the performance of nonprofits.
Rita S. Mano
University of Haifa
List of Contributors
Rita S. Mano
University of Haifa