Friday, February 10, 2006

Organizational Effectiveness Meets Network-Centricism

In my various house-cleaning, and re-reading, and placing what I know in this new context of GEO, I (re)came across "More Theses on Nonprofit Organizational Effectiveness" by the folks at ARNOVA.

Their key theses are good reminders to be a bit more circumspect in our thinking about "organizational effectiveness" and the ever problematic "best practices," but I was particularly caught by their last key thesis:

8. Since many NPOs operate as part of a network of service delivery, we need to start thinking more in terms of network effectiveness. [my emphasis]
When an NPO operates as part of a larger network to deliver services, it is less relevant to assess individual NPO effectiveness than that of the entire set of organizations working together. Emphasis on the effectiveness of such NPOs as though separate and distinct can lead an observer to invalid conclusions.

(I wish I'd seen this while writing Power to the Edges: Trends and Opportunities in Online Civic Engagement.)

I would love to find a group of funders who are interested in both organizational effectiveness and network-centric advocacy to examine what this means for the future of grantmaking and support in the nonprofit sector.


Jon Stahl said...


I would suggest you talk with our mutual friends at the Wilburforce Foundation, who along with their fellow Northwest environmental funders, are definitely investing in both capacity building and network strategies.

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Network effectiveness is even more difficult to achive than organizational effectiveness because everyone (or most) in the network need to be doing their part to help the network succeed.

For this to happen, everyone in the network, just like all of the contractors building a building, needs to be paid.

Since non profits are not equally good at raising money, making the network effective requires shared thinking on how to help everyone in the network get the funds they need to be an effective contributor to the network.

This is a concept I focus on in the Tutor/Mentor Connection. It's extremely challenging to get others on this same page because of the way people hoard scarce funds.