High Performance Nonprofit Organizations / Edition 1

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Nonprofit leaders are beginning to confront the most importantunfinished business of their sector. Having invented scores ofsuccessful model programs to address virtually every type of socialproblem or goal, they are discovering that large-scale, sustainedimpact remains elusive. Today, the only way to get the full benefitof successful programs, however, is for nonprofit leaders to beginbuilding high performance organizations—nonprofits that arecapable of creating sustained, effective impact. That requiresreversing decades of underinvestment in the capacity of nonprofits.A sector that has been indifferent, if not hostile, to the needs ofits organizations, where leaders are forced to manage upstream,against countless obstacles, now needs to apply its ingenuity andpassion to the challenge of creating high performanceorganizations. Drawing on management techniques used by successfulmanagers in both businesses and nonprofits, High PerformanceNonprofit Organizations outlines approaches that nonprofits can useto build their capacity for learning, innovating, ensuring quality,and motivating staff. Illustrated with case studies and examples,the book outlines processes for achieving these goals, including:

  • human resources management—to attract and developemployees truly in synch with an organization’s mission
  • benchmarking—to identify practices that best meet anonprofit’s needs
  • responsiveness and quality systems—to continuously reviewand upgrade quality of service
  • product development—to tap the talents of every employeeto create effective programs
The authors argue that these processes—far from corrupting anonprofit with practices that evolved to make companies moreprofitable—actually help an organization convert its valuesand integrity into results for clients and communities. Theseadaptive capacities help nonprofits deliver on their mission,building the model organization that will make the biggest impactwith model programs. High Performance Nonprofit Organizations goesfurther, laying out an agenda for changing the nonprofitenvironment, making it more supportive of its managers and moreaware of the potential of organizational capacity. The authorsassess the special opportunity of severalstakeholders—including the nonprofit board, foundations, andthe national office of multisite nonprofits—to create a newculture that values organizational performance. For the nonprofitmanager trying to build an organization that is truly responsive toits clients and community, High Performance Nonprofit Organizationsis an essential review of best practices. For the board member,foundation program officer, or nonprofit leader trying to createsustained impact, it is a provocative challenge to deal with thesector’s unfinished business with a new approach.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"It is the one book that every non profit manager should read." (Administration in Social Work, Volume 26, No. 2, 2002)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

About the authors

CHRISTINE W. LETTS is currently affiliated with the Kennedy Schoolof Government, Harvard University.



"All those who understand the importance of nonprofit organizationsto the nation must read this book. Letts, Ryan, and Grossman shownot only how we have underinvested in the very organizations which,together with governmental systems, we rely upon to maintain ahealthy civic life. They also show, in this book rich withexamples, what can and must be done to strengthen the nonprofitsector." —Lisbeth B. Schorr, Author, Common Purpose: StrengtheningFamilies and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America

"Innovative Nonprofit Management is a tremendous achievement. Everynonprofit leader knows that excellence depends on deliveringquality services, yet few realize that building organizationalcapacity is the key to consistent success. The entire nonprofitsector owes Letts, Ryan, and Grossman a heartfelt thank you fortheir careful thinking and clear analysis." —Paul S. Grogan,President and CEO, Local Initiatives Support Corporation

"If the essence of this book is widely adopted, it will have aprofound impact, not only on the nonprofit sector, but on theprocess of social change in America." -John Marks, President,Search for Common Ground

"This book is at the top of my reading wish list for nonprofittrustees and managers. Letts, Ryan, and Grossman have written themost important book yet on creating a culture of performance."—William M. Dietel, Chairman, National Center for NonprofitBoards

"Innovative Nonprofit Management is required reading for socialsector leaders and students of comparative management. Thiswell-written volume presents a rigorous summary of criticalmanagement practices, illuminated by action-oriented insights fromleading businesses and nonprofits-all aimed at achieving uncommonperformance." —Richard E. Cavanaugh, President and Chief ExecutiveOfficer, The Conference Board

"If more funders, executive directors, and board members embracedthe tenets of this book then we just might encounter a revolutionamong nonprofit organizations and the millions of institutions andindividuals they affect." —Carolyn Bess, Executive Director,Outdoor Explorations, Inc.

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Table of Contents


Organizational Performance: The Hidden Engine of SocialImpact.

Cross-Sector Lessons on Organizational Capacity.


Quality Processes: Advancing Mission by Meeting Client Needs.

Product Development: Better Ideas and Better Implementation.

Benchmarking: An Organizational Process That Links Learning andResults.

Human Resources: Developing Employees to Advance OrganizationalGoals.


The Nonprofit Board: Creating a Culture of Performance.

The National Office: Leading Program Expansion by Supporting HighPerformance.

Virtuous Capital: Investing in Performance.

Building a Nonprofit Agenda for Performance.


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