going our way?

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Out of his experience as a nonprofit executive, board member, donor, volunteer, collaborator, and consultant, David Norgard has formulated four guiding principles that provide a theoretical framework for his consulting. They are not just theory; they are important in the original sense of the word; i.e. they all have practical import. Bearing them in mind improves decision-making.

#1: Nonprofit entities are both communities and organizations…

…And their vitality depends on recognizing this reality and maintaining a proper respect for and balance between the two.

Faith communities, for instance, are groups of people gathered around a shared vision or purpose and accompanying worldview. Yet they are also corporations with budgets and staff and many other features of a typical business. Likewise, secular nonprofit agencies and institutions are not just businesses without owners. They are communities composed of overlapping constituencies (such as volunteers, donors, staff and board members), organized around a compelling purpose.

#2: Nonprofit organizations need strong executives and strong boards…

…And without both in place, they are prone to inertia and eventual deterioration.

Because successful nonprofits are entrepreneurial businesses, they require dynamic executive leadership just as in the for-profit sector. At the same time, because successful nonprofits are also communities, their leadership needs to be collective too, and representative of the constituencies which comprise the community.

#3: Nonprofits thrive when program and development work together as partners…

…And both suffer when they don’t.

Developing resources successfully requires making a compelling case for support that is built not just on solid facts about what is being accomplished but just as much on the enthusiastic endorsement of those directly involved. Conversely, to accomplish anything of substance or scope requires resources – money, of course, but also volunteers, publicity, connections, etc. So program and development people all need to be on the same team. To work at cross-purposes for any reason is a fool’s game.

#4: Nonprofits have four vital systems and their proper relationship to each other is critical to every organization’s success: