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.