While reading the articles assigned for this week and last week, I found myself asking, “How can we utilize these strategies in a non-for-profit environment?” I discovered that several experts have rearticulated conventional strategy development in a way to benefit non-profits as well. These experts draw from business strategy and recontextualize it to make it applicable to non-profits. The following article from Robert M. Sheehan, Jr., Ph.D. at the University of Maryland calls upon Michael Porter’s “What is Strategy?” to suggest a way forward for non-profit organizations.
While Sheehan proposes some modifications of these for-profit business strategies, the instincts and intuition behind his model closely reflect the models we have studied in class thus far. However, he does recommend that non-profits focus on “the mission gap: the difference between the current state of the condition of the persons, places, and/or things for whom/which the organization wants to make a difference and their/its condition in an ideal world.” He argues that” nonprofit effectiveness is often thought of in terms of mission while for-profit effectiveness often focuses on 'profit' and/or shareholder value.” In “Using the Balance Scorecard as a Strategic Management System,” Kaplan and Norton emphasize the importance of vision and a mission statement. In fact, a variety of the articles we have read (i.e. “Building Your Company’s Vision”) assert that vision and mission must ground an organization, and that it will ultimately work to the detriment of a business to focus primarily on profits and shareholder value. Therefore, business strategy and non-profit strategy may have more commonalities than Mr. Sheehan acknowledges.
The discussion of strategy in relation to non-profit organizations can certainly extend beyond the limitations of this blog post. The following questions may be useful:
What strategies in particular may apply to non-profits?
What differences can we anticipate in applying these strategies?
Are non-profit and for-profit models inherently incompatible? If so, in what ways?