So You Want Nonprofits To Act More Like For Profits?

The always sharp Vu Le posted another entertaining article over at Nonprofit With Balls where he bastes the well-worn topic of nonprofits being told to act more like for profits in his unique brand of sharp-tongued marinade.

Adaptistration People 014Le’s post articulates what most arts admins think in the back of their mind when being lectured by some self-righteous leadership figure about acting more like a for profit and seeing it in print never gets old.

But instead of merely preaching to the choir, Le does an excellent job at identifying seven areas where nonprofits would absolutely love grant those requests provided there’s an equal amount of quid pro quo from funders and board leadership. My favorite of these is “Invest significant funding” which points out the hypocrisy of unrealistic expectations in light of unbalanced funding.

One item I’d like to add to the mix is taking internal culture seriously enough to quantify it.

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see a nonprofit performing arts organization list similar to the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® List?

Regular readers already know that workplace satisfaction within the orchestra admin field has been an ongoing topic here over the years and if there’s one area where our business would improve by adopting for profit standards (and the related resources), this is it.

But I’m curious to know what you think, what else would you add to Vu Le’s list?

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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