Managing the Nonprofit Organization | Notes & Review

Posted on May 6, 2010


Peter Drucker. Managing the Nonprofit Organization: Principles and Practices. HarperCollins, 1990. (235 pages)

managing the nonprofit

The ‘non-profit’ institution neither supplies goods or services nor controls. Its ‘product’ is neither a pair of shoes nor an effective regulation. Its product is a changed human being. The non-profit institutions are human-change agents. Their ‘product’ is a cured patient, a child that learns, a young man or woman grown into a self-respecting adult; a changed human life altogether. (xiv)

“Non profits face very big and different challenges.” (xvi) “The first is to convert donors into contributors. … To make contributors out of donors means that the American people can see what they want to see — or should want to see — when each of us looks at himself or herself in the mirror in the morning: someone who as a citizen takes responsibility. Someone who as a neighbor cares.” (xvii) “Then there is the second major challenge for the non-profits: to give community and common purpose.” (xvii)

“The non-profits are the American community. They increasingly give the individual the ability to perform and to achieve. Precisely because volunteers do not have the satisfaction of a paycheck, they have to get more satisfaction out of their contribution. They have to be managed as unpaid staff. But most non-profits still have to learn how to do this. And I hope to show them how — not by preaching, but by giving successful examples.” (xviii)

PART ONE: THE MISSION COMES FIRST: and your role as a leader

1 – The Commitment

“The first job of the leader is to think through and define the mission of the institution.” (3) “A mission statement has to be operational, otherwise it’s just good intentions. A mission statement has to focus on what the institution really tries to do and then do it so that everybody in the organization can say, This is my contribution to the goal.” (4) “The task of the non-profit manager is to try to convert the organization’s mission statement into specifics.” (5) “But the goal can be short-lived, or it might change drastically because a mission is accomplished. … The mission is forever and may be divinely ordained; the goals are temporary.” (5)

“One of our most common mistakes is to make the mission statement into a kind of hero sandwich of good intentions. It has to be simple and clear.” (5) And, “as you add on, you have to abandon.” (6)

THE THREE “MUSTS” OF A SUCCESSFUL MISSION. Look at the strength and performance (competence). Look outside at the opportunities, the needs (opportunities). Look at what we really believe in (commitment).

2 – Leadership Is a Foul-Weather Job

Fortunately or unfortunately, the one predictable thing in any organization is the crisis. That always comes. (9)

“The most important task of an organization’s leader is to anticipate crisis. … That is called innovation, constant renewal.” (9) “The lesson for the leaders of non-profits is that one has to grow with success. But one also has to make sure that one doesn’t become unable to adjust.” (10) “Non-profit organizations need the discipline of organized abandonment…They need to face up to critical choices. … The starting point is to recognize that change is not a threat. It’s an opportunity.” (11) “The lesson is, Don’t wait. Organize yourself for systematic innovation.” (12)

“First, organize yourself to see the opportunity. If you don’t look out the window, you won’t see it. What makes this particularly important is that most of our current reporting systems don’t reveal opportunities; they report problems. They report the past. … Next, you have the problem of organizing the new. It must be organized separately. Babies don’t belong in the living room, they belong in the nursery. If you put new ideas into operating units…the solving of the daily crisis will always take precedence over introducing tomorrow. So, when you try to develop the new within an existing operation, you are always postponing tomorrow. It must be set up separately.” (13-14)

“Next, you need an innovative strategy: a way to bring the new to the marketplace.” (14) “Selling has to be built into planning, and that means involving the operating people. But don’t forget one thing: everything new requires hard work on the part of true believers–and true believers are not available part time.” (15)

HOW TO PICK A LEADER. “First, I would look at what the individuals have done, what their strengths are. Second, I would look at the institution and ask: What is the one immediate key challenge? Then I would look for–call it character or integrity.” (16) “In the non-profit agency, mediocrity in leadership shows up almost immediately. One difference clearly is that the non-profit has a number of bottom lines–not just one…but in non-profit management you deal with balance, synthesis, a combination of bottom lines for performance. Certainly the non-profit executive does not have the luxury of dealing with one dominant constituency, either–each of which can say no and none of which can say yes.” (17)

You can’t be satisfied in non-profit organizations with doing adequately as a leader. You have to do exceptionally well, because your agency is committed to a cause. You want people as leaders who take a great view of the agency’s functions, people who take their roles seriously–not themselves seriously. Anybody in that leadership position who thinks he’s a great man or a great woman will kill himself–and the agency.” (17-8)

“The new leader of a non-profit doesn’t have much time to establish himself or herself. Maybe a year. To be effective in that short a time, the role the leader takes has to fit in terms of the mission of the institution and its values. … First, the role has to fit you–who you are. The role you take also has to fit the task. And, finally, the role has to fit expectations. … You have two things to build on: the quality of the people in the organization, and the new demands you make on them. What those new demands will be can be determined by analysis, or by perception, or a combination of both.” (18)

The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say “I.” And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say “I.” They don’t think “I.” They think “we”; they think “team.” They understand their job to be to make the team function. There is an identification with the task and with the group. (19)

“As a leader, you are visible; incredibly visible. And you have expectations to fulfill. … You better realize you are constantly on trial.” (19)

“Most organizations need somebody who can lead regardless of the weather. What matters is that he or she works on the basic competences.

  • At the first such basic competence, I would put the willingness, ability, and self-discipline to listen. Listening is not a skill; it’s a discipline. Anybody can do it. All you have to do is keep your mouth shut.
  • The second is the willingness to communicate, to make yourself understood. That requires infinite patience.
  • The next is not to alibi yourself. We either do things to perfection, or we don’t do them. We don’t do things to get by. Working that way creates pride in the organization.
  • Last, the willingness to realize how unimportant you are compared to the task. Leaders need objectivity, a certain detachment. They subordinate themselves to the task, but don’t identify themselves with the task. The task remains both bigger than they are, and different.

“When effective non-profit leaders have the capacity to maintain their personality and individuality, even though they are totally dedicated, the task will go on after them. They also have a human existence outside the task. Otherwise they do things for personal aggrandizement, in the belief that this furthers the cause. They become self-centered and vain. And above all, they become jealous. … A hallmark of a truly effective leaders, [one] who doesn’t feel threatened by strength. … I would not want any person to give his or her life to an organization. One gives one’s very best efforts.” (20-21)

Most leaders I’ve seen were neither born nor made. They were self-made.

THE BALANCE DECISION. “One of the key tasks of the leader is to balance up the long range and the short range, the big picture and the pesky little details.” Don’t only see the big picture forgetting the individual who needs help. Neither become the “prisoner of operations.” (23) “Another, which I think is even harder to handle, is the balance between concentrating resources on one goal and enough diversification. … Diversity can easily degenerate into splintering.” (24) “The even more critical balance, and the toughest to handle, is between being too cautious and being rash. Finally, there is timing–and this is always of the essence. … Those are, in philosophical terms, Aristotelian Prudences, …how to find the right Mean.

“So, one has to have balance, and again the only advice I can give is to make sure you know your degenerative tendency and try to counteract it.” (25)

THE DON’T’S OF LEADERSHIP. “Far too many leaders believe that what they do and why they do it must be obvious to everyone in the organization. It never is. Far too many believe that when they announce things, everyone understands. No one does, as a rule. … Effective leaders have to spend a little time on making themselves understood.” (25) Don’t shoot from the hip. “And the second don’t is don’t be afraid of strengths in your organization. This is the besetting sin of people who run organizations. Of course, able people are ambitious. But you run far less risk of having able people around who want to push you out than you risk by being served by mediocrity.” (26)

“Don’t pick your successor alone. …carbon copies are weak. Don’t hog the credit, and don’t knock your subordinates. … The most important thing to do, Keep your eye on the task, not yourself. The task matters, and you are a servant.” (26-27)

3 – Setting New Goals–Interview with Frances Hesselbein

Market-driven” simply means looking for “targets of opportunity.” (31)

“You look at the volunteers as your most important market simply because the number of volunteers you can bring in determines how many girls you can serve. And you make a determined, continued effort to find the right people. Then you treat them, not as volunteers but as unpaid members of the organization. You determine their job, you set the standard, you provide the training, and you basically set their sights high.” (33)

4 – What the Leader Owes–Interview with Max De Pree

“I would have to begin with a personal observation, which is that I believe, first of all, that each of us is made in the image of God. That we come to life with a tremendous diversity of gifts. I think from there a leader needs to see himself in a position of indebtedness. … We’re basically a volunteer nation. I think this means that people choose a leader to a great extent on the basis of what they believe that leader can contribute to the person’s ability to achieve his or her goals in life.” (37)

“You develop people, not jobs. … Yes, and I’m saying too that when you take the risk of developing people, the odds are very good that the organization will get what it needs. … But you are also implying that you can only develop what the person has. Not what the person ain’t got? … That’s right. We’re talking about building on what people are–not about changing them.” (38)

“Delegate with a certain abandon so that people have space in which to realize potential, in which to be accountable, in which to achieve.” (39)

“Opportunity is one of the most important things we seek today…for self-realization, for being part of a social body that is attractive and rewarding, for doing work which will help me to reach my potential, to be an integral part of something. We do not develop vital surviving organizations unless we take into account these needs for meaningful work, for a chance at reaching our potential for good social relationships.” (41)

“Instead of bemoaning that young people are lazy or self-centered, I think one says: what do they have? They have a tremendous desire to contribute. … I think it’s better to err on the side of being more demanding of a person than of being less demanding.” (41)

“And be willing to have a high casualty rate? Yes, but organizationally speaking, the casualty isn’t always necessarily terminal. One of the things that I feel we need to understand better in organization life is the role of grace.” (42)

“I believe the best way to have mentorship take place is to reward it visibly when it happens rather than to try to structure it.” (42)

How to build a team? “Understand the taskselect people, a high-risk process. … On further element: the way in which you judge the quality of leadership by what I would call the tone of the body, not the charisma of the leader, not by how much publicity the company gets, or the leader gets, or any of that stuff. How well does the body adjust to change?” (43-4)

The indebtedness of the leader: that the leader starts out with the realization that he and the organization owe; they owe the customers, the clients, the constituency, whether they are parishioners, or patients, or students. They owe the followers, whether that’s faculty, or employees, or volunteers. And what they owe is really to enable people to realize their potential, to realize their purpose in serving the organization.” (44)

5 – Summary: The Action Implications

“Mission comes first … and must never be forgotten.” (45) “Mission is always long-range.” (46) But next is “do.” “Action is always short term and results-driven. … Leadership is accountable for results and always asks, Are we really faithful stewards of the talents entrusted to us? Leadership is doing. It isn’t just thinking great thoughts. … And the first imperative of doing is to revise the mission, to refocus it, and to build and organize, and then abandon.” (47) “Think through priorities [because] if you don’t concentrate your institution’s resources, you are not going to get results.” (48)

This may be the ultimate test of leadership: the ability to think through the priority decision and to make it stick. (48)

“A leader is not a private person. A leader represents.” (48)

“We are creating tomorrow’s society of citizens through the non-profit service institution. And in that society, everybody is a leader, everybody is responsible, everybody acts. Everybody focuses himself or herself. Everybody raises the vision, the competence, and the performance of his or her organization. Therefore, mission and leadership are not just things to read about, to listen to. They are things to do something about.” (49)

PART TWO: FROM MISSION TO PERFORMANCE: effective strategies for marketing, innovation, and fund development

1 – Converting Good Intentions into Results

The non-profit institution is not merely delivering a service. It wants the end user to be not a user but a doer. … It attempts to become a part of the recipient rather than merely a supplier. (53)

You need four things: a plan, marketing, people, and money. (53)

“Nobody trusts you if you offer something for free. You need to market even the most beneficial service. But the marketing you do in the non-profit sector is quite different from selling. It’s more a matter of knowing your market–call it market research–of segmenting your market, of looking at your service from the recipient’s point of view. (53-4)

“Although marketing for a non-profit uses many of the same terms and even many of the same tools as a business, it is really quite different because the non-profit is selling something intangible. Something that you transform into a value for the customer. … That’s a concept–an abstraction–and to sell a concept is different from selling a product.” (54)

“To run a non-profit effectively, the marketing must be built into the design of the service.

  • focus only on those things you are competent to do (55)
  • don’t put your scarce resources where you aren’t going to have results. This may be the first rule for effective marketing (55)
  • know your customers. Yes, I said customers. Practically everybody has more than one customer, if you define a customer as a person who can say no. (55)

You need a “marketing plan with specific objectives and goals…and marketing responsibility, which is to take one’s customers seriously. Not saying, We know what’s good for them. But, What are their values? How do I reach them?” (56)

“Almost by definition, money is always scarce in a non-profit institution.” (56) “The purpose of a strategy for raising money is precisely to enable the non-profit institution to carry out its mission without subordinating that mission to fund-raising. This is why non-profit people have now changed the term they use from ‘fund raising’ to ‘fund development.'” (56)

Fund-raising is going around with a begging bowl, asking for money because the need is so great. Fund development is creating a constituency which supports the organization because it deserves it. (56)

You have to have a board that has “the ability to audit the balance between your program and your resources. The board is the guardian.” (57)

“It is increasingly dangerous to depend on emotional appeal alone. … ‘Compassion fatigue’ is when there is so much misery in the world that we become quite hardened and callous to that constant plucking of our heart strings. In fund development you appeal to the heart, but you also have to appeal to the head, and try to build a continuing effort. The non-profit manager has to think through how to define results for an effort.” (58)

2 – Winning Strategies

There is an old saying that good intentions don’t move mountains; bulldozers do. In non-profit management, the mission and the plan–if that’s all there is–are the good intentions. Strategies are the bulldozers. They convert what you want to do into accomplishment. … One prays for miracles but works for results, St. Augustine said. Strategies convert intentions into action and busyness into work. Strategies are not something you hope for; strategies are something you work for. (59)

You need a strategy for marketing, improving, people, money, and time. You goals should be high enough so that they say: “we’ve got to stretch” (61)

Set “qualitative goals. Quantity without quality is the worst thing and will result in a total failure.” (62)

“First, the goal must be clearly defined. Then that goal must be converted into specific results, specific targets, each focused on a specific audience, a specific market area. … Next, you will need a marketing plan and efforts. How are you really going to reach this specific segment. Next comes communication–lots of it–and training. Then logistics (what resources are required). Then feedback and control points. … To carry out the process, you need to use both written and verbal communication.” (63-64)

Don’t avoid defining your goals because it might be thought “controversial.”

“With strategy, one always makes compromises on implementation. But one does not compromise on goals, does not pussy-foot around them, does not try to serve two masters. Also, Don’t try to reach different market segments with the same message.” (66)

Usually, there is no lack of ideas in non-profit organizations. What’s more often lacking is the willingness and the ability to convert those ideas into effective results. What is needed is an innovative strategy. The successful non-profit organization is organized for the new–organized to perceive opportunities. (66)

One strategy is practically infallible: Refocus and change the organization when you are successful. ‘Let’s improve it.’ If you don’t improve it, you go downhill pretty fast.” (66) “The best rule for improvement strategies is to put your efforts into your successes. Improve the areas of success, and change them.” (67)

“The responsibility for this rests at the top, as in everything that has to do with the spirit of an organization. And so the executives who run innovative organizations must train themselves to look out the window, to look for change. The funny thing is, it’s easier to learn to look out the window than to look inside, and that’s also a smart thing to do systematically.” (67)

The first requirement for successful innovation is to look at a change as a potential opportunity instead of a threat. (68)

“Look into the possibility of developing a niche…if you come out with a specialty, don’t try to do everything for everybody.” (69)

COMMON MISTAKES: “One is to go from idea into full-scale operation. Don’t omit testing the idea. … Also don’t go by what ‘everybody knows.’ The next most common mistake is righteous arrogance. … Another is to patch up the old rather than to go all-out for the new. … Don’t assume that there is just the one right strategy for innovations. Every one requires thinking through anew.” (69-70)

“Let’s not start out with what we know. Let’s tart out with what we need to learn.” (71)

3 – Defining the Market–Interview with Philip Kotler

“The most important tasks in marketing have to do with studying the market, segmenting it, targeting the groups you want to service, positioning yourself in the market, and creating a service that meets needs out there. Advertising and selling are afterthoughts.” (74)

What is marketing be if it isn’t selling? The shortest definition I’ve heard is that it is finding needs and filling them. I would add that it produces positive value for both parties. The contrast between marketing and selling is whether you start with customers, or consumers, or groups you want to serve well–that’s marketing. If you start with a set of products you have, and want to push them out into any market you can find, that’s selling. (74)

“Many organizations are very clear about the needs they would like to serve, but they often don’t understand these needs from the perspective of the customers. They make assumptions based on their own interpretation of the needs out there.” (75)

“…salespeople think they have such a good product, they don’t understand why people are not rushing to buy it or to use it.”

How do you get a response from market research? “I call it exchange thinking. What must I give in order to get? How can I add value to the other party in such a way that I add value to what I want? Reciprocity and exchange underlie marketing thinking.” (76)

“Marketing is now thought of as a process of segmenting, targeting, and positioning–I call it STP marketing. That’s opposed to LGD marketing–lunch, golf, and dinner. … Positioning raises the question, How do we put ourselves across to a market we’re interested in? How do we stand out in some way?” (76-7)

Churches “should therefore be a very diverse institution. On the other hand, marketing would suggest that it would be more successful if it defined its target group, whether it might be singles, divorced people, gay people, or whatever. The interesting thing about diversity is that most customers don’t like to be with people who are not like themselves.” (77) This is a problem called market orchestration. How do you orchestrate very diverse groups and have a successful institution? One solution may be “product differentiation.” (79)

“I think we will see a good deal of–not niche marketing in the non-profit section but product identification, as you would cal it in a business. The market, very largely, will determine the character of the institution and the character of the product.” (80)

“Marketing doesn’t get anywhere in an organization without the head of the organization getting interested in it, understanding it, and wishing to disseminate its logic and wisdom to the staff and people connected with the institution.” (81)

“Marketing is suppose to build up what I call share of mind and share of heart. … more awareness and more loyalty or bonding.” (81-2)

  1. Do some customer research.
  2. Develop segmentation and be aware of different groups that you’re going to be interacting with.
  3. Develop policies, practices, and programs that are targeted to satisfy those groups.
  4. Communicate these programs

“You have to start out with knowing what the customers really consider value, what is important, before you communicate, rather than with telling the things you believe should be important to the customer.” (83) “Marketing becomes very effective when the organization is very clear about what it wants to accomplish. … Marketing is a way to harmonize the needs and wants of the outside world with the purposes and the resources and the objectives of the institution.” (84)

4 – Building the Donor Constituency–Interview with Dudley Hafner

Acquaint donors with what you are as an organization so they can identify with your goals (86), and present a case for support which spells out the magnitude of the challenge, what we propose to do about it, how realistic it is to achieve that challenge, and how your gift can make a difference, (87)

Do donors really “give to themselves?” “We all have our special groups of interest and our challenge is to expand those groups of interest.” (88) “For long-term growth of an organization, you have to appeal to the rational in the individual as well as the emotional part of the individual.” (90) “The constant emphasis is on the mission.” (93)

Strategy is how we use our resources to get the attention of that individual to do what it is we hope he or she will do.” (94) “It’s always focused on an individual.” (95)

“Fund development is people development. You are building a constituency, understanding, and support. You’re building satisfaction, human satisfaction in the process.” (97)

5 – Summary: The Action Implications

“Strategy converts a non-profit institution’s mission and objectives into performance, and all strategy begins with research, research, and more research.” (99) “You don’t start out with your product but with the end, which is a satisfied customer. The most important person to research is the individual who should be the customer.” (100)

“We have learned that attitude training is not very effective. The way to train people is behaviorally: This is what you do.” (101) “Strategy also demands that the non-profit institution organize itself to abandon what no longer works, what no longer contributes, what no longer serves.” (102)

Non-profit people must respect their customers and their donors enough to listen to their values and understand their satisfactions. They do not impose the executive’s or the organization’s own views and egos on those they serve. (103)

PART THREE: MANAGING FOR PERFORMANCE: how to define it; how to measure it

1 – What Is the Bottom Line When There Is No “Bottom Line”?

Non-profit institutions tend not to give priority to performance and results. Yet performance and results are far more important–and far more difficult to measure and control–in the non-profit institution than in a business. (107)

“…he executive who leads effectively must first answer the question, How is performance for this institution to be defined?” (107)

“It is not enough for non-profits to say : We serve a need. The really good ones create a want.

Two common temptations have to be resisted. First: recklessness. It is so easy to say that the cause is everything, and if people don’t want to support it, too bad for them. Performance means concentrating on available resources where the results are. It does not mean making promises you can’t live up to. But equally dangerous is the opposite–to go for the easy results rather than for the results that further the mission.” (108)

“Non-profits always have a multitude of constituencies.” [VIA: which is different from having a “diversity” of people groups which come with different cultural values and objectives.]

“Start by defining the fundamental change that the non-profit institution wants to make in society and in human beings.” (111)

MORAL VS. ECONOMIC CAUSES: “Non-profit institutions generally find it almost impossible to abandon anything. Everything they do is ‘the Lord’s work’ or ‘a good cause.’ But non-profits have to distinguish between moral causes and economic causes.” (111) “Is this the best application of our scarce resources? … We cannot afford to be righteous and continue this project where we seem to be unable to achieve the results we’ve set for ourselves. … There are always so many more moral causes to be served than we have resources for that the non-profit institution has a duty–toward its donors, toward its customers, and toward its own staff–to allocate its scarce resources for results rather than to squander them on being righteous.” (112)

2 – Don’t’s and Do’s–The Basic Rules

“Non-profits are prone to become inward-looking…they see the institution as an end in itself. But that’s a bureaucracy.” (112)

Most people think that feuding and bickering bespeak “personality conflicts.” They rarely do. They usually are symptoms of the need to change the organization. (114)

For example, “Your organization structure and the reality of your operation aren’t congruent anymore. Don’t tolerate discourtesy. … There is a law of nature that where moving bodies are in contact with one another, there is friction. And manners are the social lubricating oil that smoothes over friction.” (115)

Good causes do not excuse bad manners. (115)

Each level of management is a ‘relay’; and each relay in an information chain cuts the message in half and doubles the ‘noise.’ But it also means that individuals in the organization have to take information responsibility.” (115)

Trust means that you know what to expect of people. Trust is mutual understanding. Not mutual love, not even mutual respect. Predictability.” (116)

Delegation further requires that delegators follow up.” (117)

Standards have to be concrete…and set high. If you start low, you can never go higher. Slow is different than low.” (117) “Standards should be ambitious, yet attainable. … use star performers to raise the sights, the vision, the expectations. One features performers. … If there is no paycheck, achievement is the sole reward.” (119)

Force your people, and especially your executives, to be on the outside often enough to know what the institution exists for. There are no results inside an institution. There are only costs. (120)

3 – The Effective Decision

“Most of the other tasks executives do, other people could do.” (121)

“Decisions always involve risk taking. And effective decisions take a lot of time and thought … And don’t make decisions on trivia.” (122-3)

THE NEED FOR DISSENT: “If you have consensus on an important matter, don’t make the decision. Adjourn it so that everybody has a little time to think. Important decisions are risky. They should be controversial. Acclamation means that nobody has done the homework.” (124)

“Instead of arguing what is right, assume that each faction has the right answer. But which question is each trying to answer? Then, you gain understanding.” (124)

“Any organization needs a nonconformist.” (125)

CONFLICT RESOLUTION: “You use dissent and disagreement to resolve conflict. One way, ask the two people who most vocally oppose each other to sit down and work out a common approach. Also, defuse the argument, ‘let’s start by finding out what we agree on.'” (127)

FROM DECISION TO ACTION: “A decision is a commitment to action. But far too many decisions remain pious intentions. There are four common causes. 1) we try to ‘sell’ the decision rather than to ‘market’ it. 2) we go systemwide immediately. 3) no decision has been made until someone is designated to carry it out. 4) no one thought through who had to do what.

Every decision is a commitment of present resources to the uncertainties of the future. (129)

“One weakness of non-profit institutions is that they believe that they have to be infallible–far more so than businesses.” (129) (The implication is, of course, that this is unreasonable.)

4 – How to Make the Schools Accountable–Interview with Albert Shanker (no notes)

5 – Summary: The Action Implication

Performance is the ultimate test of any institution. Every non-profit institution exists for the sake of performance in changing people and society. (139)

“In a non-profit organization, there is no such bottom line. But there is also a temptation to downplay results. There is the temptation to say: We are serving in a good cause. We are doing the Lord’s work. Or we are doing something to make life a little better for people and that’s a result in itself. That is not enough. If a business wastes its resources on non-results, by and large it loses its own money. In a non-profit institution, though, it’s somebody else’s money–the donors’ money. Service organizations are accountable to donors, accountable for putting the money where the results are, and for performance. So, this is an area that needs special emphasis for non-profit executives. Good intentions only pave the way to Hell.” (139-140)

“We need to remind ourselves again and again that the results of a non-profit institution are always outside the organization, not inside. (140)

“The statement, ‘This is what we are here for,’ must eventually become the statement, ‘This is how we do it. This is the time span in which we do it. This is who is accountable. This is, in other words, the work for which we are responsible.’ ” (142)

PART FOUR: PEOPLE AND RELATIONSHIPS: your staff, your board, your volunteers, your community

1 – People Decisions

People decisions are the ultimate–perhaps the only–control of an organization. (145)

Be committed to a “diagnostic process.” (145) “Properly done, the selection process starts with an assignment–not merely with a job description but an assignment. Next, the executive forces himself or herself to look at more than one person. … Thirdly, while reviewing candidates, the focus must always be on performance. Don’t start with personality. … THen fourth, look at people’s specific strengths. What have they shown they can do in their last three assignments?” (146)

HOW TO DEVELOP PEOPLE: Don’t build on people’s weaknesses, build on their strengths. “Don’t take a narrow and shortsighted view of the development of people.” (147) “Look always at performance, not promise.” (148) “Make high demands. One can always relax standards, but one can never raise them. … Don’t hire a person for what they can’t do, hire them for what they can do.” (148)

One of the great strengths of a non-profit organization is that people don’t work for a living, they work for a cause (not everybody, but a good many). That also creates a tremendous responsibility for the institution, to keep the flame alive, not to allow work to become just a “job.” (150)

BUILDING THE TEAM: “To build a successful team, you don’t start out with people–you start out with the job.” (152) “The purpose of a team is to make the strengths of each person effective, and his or her weaknesses irrelevant.” (153)

PERSONAL EFFECTIVENESS ON THE JOB: Make sure “the person understands clearly what he or she is going to do and doesn’t ride off in all directions.” (153)

THE TOUGH DECISION: “the conflict non-profit executives often face between the need to ensure competence and the need for compassion.” (154)

THE SUCCESSION DECISION: “The most critical people decision, and the one that is hardest to undo, is the succession to the top. … every such decision is really a gamble. The only test of performance in the top position is performance in the top position. … You don’t want a carbon copy. … Be a little leery of the faithful assistant who has never made a decision alone. … Stay away too, from the anointed crown prince. … Match the need against proven performance. In the end, what decides whether a non-profit institution succeeds or fails is its ability to attract and to hold committed people.” (154-5)

“Are we attracting the right people? Are we holding them? Are we developing them? … In other words, are we building for tomorrow in our people decisions, or are we settling for the convenient and the easy today?” (155)

2 – The Key Relationships

“the typical non-profit has so many more relationships that are vitally important. … To be effective, a non-profit needs a strong board. ” It’s the guardian of the mission, and ensures that the organization has competent management–and the right management.” (157)

Membership on this board is not power, it is responsibility. (158)

“Best to limit membership to two terms of, say, three years each.” (159)

The true test of a relationship is not that it can solve problems but that it can function despite problems. (159)

3 – From Volunteers to Unpaid Staff–Interview with Father Leo Bartel

“If people are properly motivated, developing competence becomes part of their very need. … Rather than lack of competence, the thing you have to worry about is lack of self-confidence.” (164)

How do we “inspire” and how do we “organize?” “If you don’t get the top inspired, you have lost everybody.” (166)

“I try more than anything to keep central my conviction of the dignity of each person.” (168)

“If they fail, I’ve failed. And their success is my success. … There is no greater achievement than to help a few people get the right things done. That’s perhaps the only satisfactory definition of being a leader.” (169)

4 – The Effective Board–Interview with Dr. David Hubbard

“A board owns an organization not for its own sake–as a board–but for the sake of the mission which that organization is to perform. We have chosen to take a tougher line–to evaluate performance when a board member’s term is up.” (171-2)

“Board members are governors, sponsors, ambassadors and consultants.” (173) Take your boards on study tours.

CEO’s have two primary areas of service. “Care for the vice-presidents, and care for the trustees.” (174)

“A subject belongs at the board level precisely because a subject is controversial–and the sooner the better.” (175)

5 – Summary: The Action Implications

In no area are the differences greater between businesses and non-profit institutions than in managing people and relationships. (181)

“Even paid staff in these organizations need achievement, the satisfaction of service, or they become alienated and even hostile. After all, what’s the point of working in a non-profit institution if one doesn’t make a clear contribution?” (181)

“People require clear assignments…and they need/[deserve] to know what the institution expects of them. But the responsibility for developing the work plan, the job description, and the assignment should always be on the people who do the work.” (182) “What should this institution hold me accountable for? … Make sure to listen–but also make sure to take action on what you hear and learn.” (184)

“The non-profit must be information-based…it has to be a learning organization, and compassionate.” (182-3)

“If a person doesn’t try at all, encourage him or her as soon as possible to go work for the competition.” (183)

“A recurring problem…are the people who volunteer because they are profoundly lonely.” (183)

The effective non-profit executive finally takes responsibility for making it easy for people to do their work, easy to have results, easy to enjoy their work. IT’s not enough for them, or for you, that they serve a good cause. The executive’s job is to make sure that they get results. (185)

PART FIVE: DEVELOPING YOURSELF: as a person, as an executive, as a leader

1 – You Are Responsible

“The first priority for the non-profit executive’s own development is to strive for excellence. That brings satisfaction and self-respect.

Workmanship counts, not just because it makes such a difference in the quality of the job done but because it makes such a difference in the person doing the job. Without craftsmanship, there is neither a good job, nor self-respect, nor personal growth. (189)

“Self-development is very deeply meshed in with the mission of the organization, with the commitment and belief that the work done in this church or this school matters. … Paying serious attention to self-development–your own and that of everyone in the organization–is not a luxury for non-profit executives.” (189)

“You want constructive discontent. … The key to building an organization with such a spirit is organizing the work so everyone feels essential to a goal they believe in.” (190)

TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE: “You can only make yourself effective–not anyone else. … Creating a record of performance is the only thing that will encourage people to trust you and support you.” (191)

For good performance, we give a raise. But we promote only those people who leave behind a bigger job than the one they initially took on. (193)

2 – What Do You Want to Be Remembered For?

“When young people come out of school, they know very little about themselves. … The first job is a lottery.” (195)

“We all tend to take temperament and personality for granted. But it’s very important to take them seriously and to understand them clearly because they’re not too subject to change by training.” (195)

The right decision is to quit if you are in the wrong place, if it is basically corrupt, or if your performance is not being recognized. Promotion itself is not the important thing. What is important is to be eligible, to be equally considered. If you are not in such a situation, you will all too soon begin to accept a second-rate opinion of yourself. (196)

“A great many volunteers, for instance, move on to another organization after ten or twelve years of working for one non-profit. The usual need they feel is to change the routine. An unexpressed need may be that they no longer are learning. When you stop learning in a job, you begin to shrink.” (196)

“Burnout,” much of the time, is a cop-out for being bored. (197)

“Most work is doing the same thing again and again. The excitement is not the job–it is the result. Nose to the grindstone, eyes on the hills. If you allow a job to bore you, you have stopped working for results.” (197)

“To build learning into your work, and keep it there, build in organized feedback from results to expectations.” (197)

“It’s up to you to manage your job and your career. To understand where you best belong. To make high demands on yourself by way of contribution to the work of the organization itself. To practice what I call preventive hygiene so as not to allow yourself to become bored. To build in challenges. (198)

DO THE RIGHT THINGS WELL: “Most of us who work in organizations work at a surprisingly low yield of effectiveness. … Effectiveness is more a matter of habits of behavior and a few elementary rules. But the human race is not too good at it yet because organizations are pretty recent inventions. … In solo work, the job organizes the performer; in an organization, the performer organizes the job.” (198)

“Your job is to make effective what you have–not what you don’t have. … There is some correlation between what you and I like to do and what we do well. There is a strong correlation between what we hate to do and what we do poorly.” (198-9)

“Strengths are not skills, they are capacities.” (199)

Too many think they are wonderful with people because they talk well. They don’t realize that being wonderful with people means listening well. (199)

SELF-RENEWAL: “Expect the job to provide stimulus only if you work on your own self-renewal, only if you create the excitement, the challenge, the transformation that makes an old job enriching over and over again.” (200) The three most common forcing tools for sustaining the process of self-renewal are teaching, going outside the organization, and serving down in the ranks.

3 – Non-Profits: The Second Career–Interview with Robert Buford

You can choose the game you’re in but not the rules of the game. (204)

“If you are skill-focused rather than task-focused, you miss a turn, so to speak. … Start on the outside. What is the purpose? Who is the master?” (206)

“It’s so important for people who work in an organization to have an outside interest, to meet people and not just become totally absorbed in their own small world. And all worlds are small worlds.” (207)

4 – The Woman Executive in the Non-Profit Institution–Interview with Roxanne Spitzer-Lehmann

Any advice I’d give to an executive would probably not be limited to gender. I think that women probably have to do it a little better, and a little harder. But in fact, the greatest attribute a woman can have going in any organization, is to play as a team member. (211)

“I think people skills are very much based upon communicating a common goal.” (214)

“One is, of course, self-driven, not always just by mission but by a need to accomplish.” (215)

“I think the best self-development is developing others. … My role is not to give the answers. My role is to facilitate their brainstorming and thinking.” (217)

5 – Summary: The Action Implications

“Development means two things: developing the person, and developing the skill, competence, and ability to contribute.” (222)

“Developing yourself begins by serving. Leaders are not born, nor are they made–they are self-made. … To do this, a person needs focus.” (222)

“Developing your strengths does not mean ignoring your weaknesses. On the contrary, one is always conscious of them. But one can only overcome weakness by developing strengths.” (223)

Achievement comes form matching need and opportunity on the outside with competence and strength on the inside. (223)

“Effective self-development must proceed along two parallel streams. One is improvement–to do better what you already do reasonably well. The second is change–to do something different. Both are essential.” (223)

Change when you are successful–not when you’re in trouble. (223)

“The means for self-development are not obscure. Many achievers have discovered that teaching is one of the most successful tools. The teacher usually learns far more than the student.” (224)

“Self-development is neither a philosophy nor good intentions. Self-renewal is not a warm glow. Both are action. You become a bigger person, yes; but, most of all, you become a more effective and committed person. So, I conclude by asking you to ask yourself, what will you do tomorrow as a result of reading this book? And what will you stop doing?

— VIA—

In addition to taking these notes, posting them for the world, and beginning training and development at my own organization (a church), I am going to stop doing some very key tasks of my department, and begin developing people to do those tasks. I’ve been feeling for a while that this was going to be the next season of my vocation, and finishing this book seems to be confirmation of that direction.

As you can tell from my notes above, there was hardly a page from which I didn’t glean some insight, phraseology, perspective, or principle that wasn’t helpful or eye-opening. So, needless to say, high recommendation, for anyone in the non-profit sector.