Change Forces in Nonprofit Organizations: Tips for Decision-makers

Change is a constant in nonprofit organizations. This makes the readiness and ability for change; the capacity and preference for change, and the understanding of leading change factors and how those factors are influenced critical strategic issues for organizational decision-makers in the 21st century.



Overview of decision-making in nonprofit organization

Nonprofit organizations are institutions that achieve their goals of impacting society by utilizing their revenue surpluses in programs and services instead or distributing them as profits. In the nonprofit field, all surplus revenues are used to retain the organization through self-preservation programs and services. Because nonprofit organizations are maintained by the qualities of their programs and services, decision making surrounding those are done by top members such as board of directors who control the direction of the mission and vision of the organization.


Decision making in nonprofit organization can be strategic and operational. Unlike most traditional for-profit organizations, nonprofit organizations decision making are not focused on any underlying profiting making motivation but rather made with the focus on meeting the desires of donors and addressing the plights of the constituents served. Although the operational decision making related to dispensing programs lie outside the board of directors' involvement but within the realm of the executive directors, his/her structure, and system necessary to meet the goals set for each services set by the board of directors, strategic decision making process are usually undertaking through a concentrated process at the level of the board of directors and are focused on undertaking programs and services that further the purpose for which the organization has been formed.

The operational decision making related to dispensing programs lie outside the board of directors' involvement but within the realm of the executive directors, his/her structure, and system necessary to meet the goals set for each services set by the board of directors.

Major change factors

The major factors influencing change in the nonprofit organization remain the same across the field regardless of the services or programs provided.

Most of those factors include the local political agenda and prevailing policy priorities of the location of the services; the plights and conditions of society or a specific community, and the role of technology in both fundraising and outreach to constituents regarding a given cause.

Nonprofits do not have the traditional industrial focus and so are different in a number of respects with a major discriminant being the lack of any economic motivation. There are more operational orientations to nonprofits’ decision making process than strategic.

This is because nonprofits are heavily concentrated on operations decision than strategic primarily because their work is directed towards execution and efficiency.

Things that influence execution such as

  • governmental and political oversights of the location of program services,

  • the needs of the local people to be served by the organization,

  • the funding and political supports for the mission of the overganization

  • the level of interface and streamlining process or steps to acquire the service, and

  • the awareness surrounding the services are factors that impact decision making in nonprofit organizations.

Given the fact that nonprofits are mission-driven, cultivation of dedicated professionals who belief in the mission of the organization are also important in the operational decision making process.


Conditions and Needs affecting decision making

The 21st century comes dispensing with it a number of macro-environmental conditions ranging from political, economic, social, technological, environmental to the legal landscape in which the organization operates.

One often overlooked condition that affects and demands decision making is the cultural phenomenal of the locale in which the service is provided.

Decision makers in nonprofits must be able to:

  • respond to the needs for both policy movers and other program stakeholders and to

  • integrate their knowledge of their organizational needs into producing quality system and program outcomes that serve to uphold the desired integrity of the organization and its board of directors.

  • sell the projected benefits of a new program service line, or

  • show evidence of quality impacts of existing programs in terms of how the organization help the community and the society as a whole.


Tips for Approaching Change

  1. Respond to change in a wholesome manner with focuses on the direction of the field, understanding the aftermath of the given issue including external policies and the disparities its creates.

  2. Respond to prevailing issues as well as the determination to respond to the overall change within the organization with the ultimate goal of satisfying clients and donors requirements.

  3. When responding, ensure to: