The Mission Myth: Building Nonprofit Momentum Through Better Business is an excellent book on how to manage all aspects of a non-profit organization. A non-profit functions very much like a for profit business. Both business structures require management, money, marketing and measurement.
The Mission Myth begins with an inspirational story of a struggling entity –The Colorado Aids Project (CAP). The effort evolved slowly into a multi-million dollar nonprofit organization with little formal structure. CAP needed formal systems, strong internal policies/procedures, an internet server, and up-to-date kitchen facilities. Author Deirdre Maloney describes how CAP became a better non-profit business through better management of people, the mission, marketing, and resources.
Maloney goes on to explain that managers are not always liked. Sharing power is another difficult area due to the need to establish organizational boundaries while ensuring accountability for all the parties. Most of all, the corporate culture must come to a collective realization that people make errors. In addition, a manager inevitably carries part of the job from the office to the home.
Systems are needed to ensure that an organization can meet its goals on a timely basis. Task management needs to be efficient, consistent and cost-effective. Ultimately, the funders need to come to a realization that the organization is meeting its goals. Otherwise, the gift giving and donations may suffer.
The marketing dimension is important because the activity inspires people to act on behalf of the nonprofit organization. In addition, a clearly defined mission matters. An independent audit committee of the Board of Directors is another important element in a successful nonprofit undertaking so that management
is not auditing itself.
The Mission Myth is an important contribution to the literature of the non-profit sector. Deirdre Maloney explains the essential elements of managing a non-profit, as well as opportunities and major pitfalls. Nowhere are the pitfalls more evident than in the closure of St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City. Nearly six months after St. Vincent’s closed its doors, other emergency rooms were overloaded with more patients, more ambulance runs, and longer waiting times for emergency medical services.