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One of the greatest challenges in attempting to meets its ambitions as a socially conscious organization is the refinement of its ability to tend to the diverse needs of those who might specifically benefit from its services. This may be with respect to racial, ethnic, social, geographical, professional or economic diversity, indicating that in all areas there is a constant imperative to shape procedures according to the needs of manifold groups. As the research here encountered indicates, "no program is ever completely homogeneous. Its clientele usually fall into categories, though one category may predominate at a particular point in time. It is important to know who are your clients and what are their primary characteristics and needs, if you wish to service them properly. You will discover that diverse clientele groups may possess different needs and wants that may be in conflict. The government attempt to meet the needs of small business or the small farmer can be very different from attempts to help the large businessman or large farmer." (Koteen 113) Thus, even if the professional demographic, for instance, has a common feature designating their shared interest in a nonprofit program, said program must be prepared for the potentially vast need-differentials.
Among the various challenges directly related to the orientation of a nonprofit organization, financing is often most difficult. However, with effective management, the nonprofit can actually yield much of its financing from its own activities. It is a fact when initiating a drive for heightened awareness of as yet unproved non-profit groups that "campaigns managed by counsel usually raise more money than campaigns run without counsel. For the most part, counsel-driven campaigns take less time, use leaders more effectively and the total cost (expenses plus fees) is usually less than 10-15% of the funds pledged." (Krueger)
This is a good indication that the absence of experienced and versatile staff members is not simply a liability to the operational habits and daily outlook of an organization. More than that, it represents diminished opportunities for the augmentation of support funds as well. Those who are not already well-schooled in the nature of non-profit fundraising will enter their organizations into the field with a meaningful disadvantage. Indeed, "non-profits compete fiercely for limited financial resources that inhibit both cooperation and collaboration with other institutions. Many feel they own their information and constituents and that creates unique value for their institutions that they must protect. Non-profits do foster trusted source relationships with other non-profits just as for-profits foster co-opetition relationships with other for-profits - but the right incentives must be there for both to occur." (Peizer, 1)
Naturally, an organization which is not suited with the staff to make such determinations may find itself lagging in the department of appropriating seed money. As Peizer goes on to indicate in his review, such is a problem that, when chronic, is an early sign of doom for a non-profit operation. And while there is not necessarily a lack of money available to non-profits, there may be a misconception as to the most optimal ways to go about raising seed money. Due to what is often a fairly widely cast net, given the inherent nature of social service organizations, there is sometimes a perception from within that the most direct means to gaining financial backing is through raised public awareness. This is not, however, the case. In fact, few campaigns are given a financial boon by inundating targets with newspaper ads, editorials, press releases and the like. Such information campaigns are useful in assessing the public's receptiveness to such programs. And this could ultimately be a major contributing factor in helping potential benefactors make a decision. However, non-profits can deal themselves an irrevocable disservice by anticipating that such raised awareness would significantly increased voluntary contributions. Non-profits often fail by declining to acknowledge that "many people, and companies, are committed to making their community a better place by making what is, to many people, an extraordinary gift." This is to say that if an organization does not "ask for a major gift, most prospects will never think to make one... 80% of the funds you raise will come from 20% of your donors. This is true in virtually every successful campaign. Proper training by experienced counsel can ensure that gift levels are at a maximum and the solicitation is conducted properly." (Krueger)
Beyond this, public funding and the relationship to public office have become center to the position and viability of nonprofit groups. Organizations have come to depend on financing arrangements which have been brokered through elected office. To this end, "many nonprofits receive high levels of government funding: Governments at all levels provide about a third of all nonprofit revenues, which amounts to more than $200 billion annually... [and] governments are increasingly using the nonprofit sector -- usually social welfare organizations -- to produce or deliver public goods and services, resulting in a huge wave of public-private contracting." (Brooks, 1) This relationship is in many ways fundamental to ensuring that the social benefits of a program are effectively matched with the intended beneficiaries.
Still, there are risks and conflicts which permeate the discussion over financing for nonprofit. Specifically, "by law, federal funds may not be used for lobbying, but many corporations and nonprofit organizations that receive government grants and contracts also engage in lobbying activities using private funds. The legal tightrope that this creates has been the focus of numerous attempts at policy changes during the past decade. Some of these changes have simply sought better disclosure by recipients of federal monies, but others have been aimed specifically at nonprofit organizations and have attempted to prevent them from lobbying the government on any topic if they receive federal funds." (Leech, 1) This imposes core difficulties in managing finances and presiding over budgetary demands such as those related to proper staffing, which we have identified as a practice of core necessity to effective long-term survival and orientation.
The research here argues that the difficulties in properly staffing a non-profit organization are often resultant of a single philosophical contradiction that is perhaps one of the most germinant underlying reasons for the failure of non-profits. There are essentially two types of non-profit organizations. One is an organization which was initially centered around social-consciousness and, through the growing pursuit of its goals, eventually evolved into a business enterprise as well. The other type is the theoretical antithesis; a corporate organization which adapts part of its operation to meet a course of social service. In either case, it is not uncommon for priorities to become skewed, or for divisions to develop within organizations as to where the appropriate emphasis must be placed. In the former instance, for example, organizations whose members were initially attracted to take part based on their desire to participate in social action often suffer a lowering of morale with the acceleration of more business-oriented motives and initiatives. This was illustrated consistently in the Workventures survey, which observed that "sometimes after running more as a business there would either be a sense of loss from the earlier 'voluntary' times or ongoing discussion about the relative weights of the social and business objectives." (Bullen, 1) This is a risk due to improper prioritizing or resource financing.
This is an apprehension that is sometimes mutual, with organizations which were once of a primarily commercial nature not always willing to cater to the diversion of resources that may accompany diversification into the non-profit field. That is a condition that, more than anything, derives from the same leadership shortcomings detailed in the section regarding proper staffing. With competent staffing and adequate fundraising, resources needed for routine functionality of a business would certainly not be compromised by investment in a non-profit venture. In general, however, the true key to averting failure due to a division of priorities is to manifest a mutuality in the business and social goals of an organization, focusing the organization on refined objectives.
Still another factor that uniquely plagues non-profits is a greater need for management flexibility. As social goals are often altered in practicality by economy, cultural climate and evolving technology, a rigid non-profit organization is destined for a short run. Since the issue of funding is always of preeminence, it is crucial to note that non-profit organizations are extremely vulnerable to economic downturn. The most successful non-profits, such as Unicef and Habitat for Humanity, have shown an uncanny ability to stay socially and financially relevant through generational shifts. However, "the vast majority of U.S. non-profits are extremely small (with less than $25,000 in annual income) with limited capacity to support major investments in technology or management. They are likely not well-positioned to take advantage of the inter-generational transfer of wealth." (Raymond, 1) and in an ever-globalizing economic landscape, survivability for any small organization would be an accomplishment against the grain. Merging and corporate monopoly practices have precipitated an environment where small organizations are likely…[continue]
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