Any student can tell you I set high expectations for them, regardless of their backgrounds and college classifications. Yet, any time you ask some people to go beyond their comfort zone and stretch themselves a bit mentally, a professor is going to get some backlash.
Nevertheless, I designed a new final project called Real World Application based on one of the top tiered business schools. The objective was to provide students in my Operations Management course some practical applications from the course and assist local organizations with their problems. This is when I fully understood the challenges that many nonprofit organizations faced in this economic climate.
Most students selected private businesses while a few opted for nonprofit organizations. Noriko Chapman, the past guest blogger, got me involved more with her project since she complained she needed to do well in my course. Her project entailed assisting the Tennessee Vocational Rehabilitation Center (TRC’s), located in Maryville, to be more efficient and effective. TRC’s mission is to provide services that help lead individuals who have a physical and/or mental disability to employment and are designed to meet individual needs.
Her employer, DENSO, had been working to assist this nonprofit organization with a contract that allowed disabled workers to earn income. Her research helped TRC become more efficient. Noriko’s final project was the main inspiration for her new book, Second Chance: An In-depth Case Study on Nonprofit Organization’s Resource Allocation and Operational Maximization.
During the economic crisis this year, the organization nearly lost $72K from government funding. It was clear to me that nonprofits needed to get their act together and create more value to the sponsors and customers or face extinction.
With shrinking funds for programs and a more competitive environment, nonprofit organizations will need to rethink their corporate strategies for future success. In 2005, there will be approximately 1.4 million nonprofit organizations registered to the IRS.
The majority of nonprofits depend on volunteers at various levels. In fact, 74% of all public charities and 83% of all foundations are small; they have less than $500,000 in expenses and limited staff.
Nonprofit organizations are different from traditional organizations and require special considerations in their operations. Operations management (OM) has been a vital instrument in the pursuit of greater productivity in the business sector.
OM includes planning, coordinating, and executing all activities that create goods and services. Robert Jacobs, Richard Chase, and Nicholas Aquilano, authors of Operations & Supply Management, suggest that implementing OM assists organizations to be more competitive: “Compared with most of the other ways managers try to stimulate growth – technology investments, acquisitions, and major market campaigns, for example – innovations in operations are relatively reliable and low cost.” Today’s businesses have built elaborate systems for better efficiency and effectiveness. Yet, most nonprofits are forced to rely upon low-end technologies and outdated practices.
Demanding contributors and the public in general are demanding more accountable and efficiency after several high profile scandals. Nonprofit organizations are often influenced by their stakeholders that include clients, board of directors, committees, government officials, community leaders, staff, and volunteers.
However, most nonprofit organizations haven’t completely embraced this rigor due to various reasons (i.e. limited resources and the lack of knowledge). Yet, nonprofit organizations have a greater need for increased effectiveness in their processes during this economic crisis.
Describe your professional experiences with nonprofit sustainability issues.
© 2011 by Daryl D. Green