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High performance nonprofit organizations - Christine W. Letts

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High performance nonprofit organizations - managing upstream for greater impact
Christine W. Letts
John Wiley & Sons
UK Publication Date

Nonprofit leaders are beginning to confront the most important unfinished business of their sector. Having invented scores of successful model programs to address virtually every type of social problem or goal, they are discovering that large-scale, sustained impact remains elusive. Today, the only way to get the full benefit of successful programs, however, is for nonprofit leaders to begin building high-performance organizationsnonprofits that are capable of creating sustained, effective impact. That requires reversing decades of under-investment in the capacity of nonprofits. A sector that has been indifferent, if not hostile, to the needs of its organizations, where leaders are forced to manage upstream, against countless obstacles, now needs to apply its ingenuity and passion to the challenge of creating high-performance organizations.

Drawing on management techniques used by successful managers in both businesses and nonprofits, High Performance Nonprofit Organizations outlines approaches that nonprofits can use to 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 develop employees truly in synch with an organizations mission

  • benchmarking-to identify practices that best meet a nonprofits needs

  • responsiveness and quality systems-to continuously review and upgrade quality of service

  • product development-to tap the talents of every employee to create effective programs

The authors argue that these processesfar from corrupting a nonprofit with practices that evolved to make companies more profitableactually help an organization convert its values and integrity into results for clients and communities. These adaptive capacities help nonprofits deliver on their mission, building the model organization that will make the biggest impact with model programs.

High Performance Nonprofit Organizations goes further, laying out an agenda for changing the nonprofit environment, making it more supportive of its managers and more aware of the potential of organizational capacity. The authors assess the special opportunity of several stakeholders-including the nonprofit board, foundations, and the national office of multisite nonprofitsto create a new culture that values organizational performance. For the nonprofit manager trying to build an organization that is truly responsive to its clients and community, High Performance Nonprofit Organizations is an essential review of best practices. For the board member, foundation program officer, or nonprofit leader trying to create sustained impact, it is a provocative challenge to deal with the sectors unfinished business with a new approach.

About the authors

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



"All those who understand the importance of nonprofit organizations to the nation must read this book. Letts, Ryan, and Grossman show not only how we have underinvested in the very organizations which, together with governmental systems, we rely upon to maintain a healthy civic life. They also show, in this book rich with examples, what can and must be done to strengthen the nonprofit sector." --Lisbeth B. Schorr, Author, Common Purpose: Strengthening Families and Neighborhoods to Rebuild America

"Innovative Nonprofit Management is a tremendous achievement. Every nonprofit leader knows that excellence depends on delivering quality services, yet few realize that building organizational capacity is the key to consistent success. The entire nonprofit sector owes Letts, Ryan, and Grossman a heartfelt thank you for their 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 a profound impact, not only on the nonprofit sector, but on the process of social change in America." -John Marks, President, Search for Common Ground

"This book is at the top of my reading wish list for nonprofit trustees and managers. Letts, Ryan, and Grossman have written the most important book yet on creating a culture of performance." --William M. Dietel, Chairman, National Center for Nonprofit Boards

"Innovative Nonprofit Management is required reading for social sector leaders and students of comparative management. This well-written volume presents a rigorous summary of critical management practices, illuminated by action-oriented insights from leading businesses and nonprofits-all aimed at achieving uncommon performance." --Richard E. Cavanaugh, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Conference Board

"If more funders, executive directors, and board members embraced the tenets of this book then we just might encounter a revolution among nonprofit organizations and the millions of institutions and individuals they affect." --Carolyn Bess, Executive Director, Outdoor Explorations, Inc.

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

Keyword Index
Nonprofit organizations - Management.
Country of Publication
New York (State)
Number of Pages

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