Organizations need to be fed to be healthy and sustainable. If organizations are not fed, they will starve. Authors Ann Gregory and Don Howard, in their article The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle, state that organizations must have proper care and feeding if they are to be successful in making their mission come alive in the community.
While Gregory and Howard point out that funding restrictions and/or reductions can lead to organizational starvation, they rightfully point out that there is a shared responsibility that goes beyond funders. Organizational leaders often do not make the appropriate investments in infrastructure. Governance leaders often unaware of these lack of investments. They focus instead on the bottom-line. Funders often times are not aware of the organizational challenges until the organization performance begins to diminish. A lack of transparency and accurate reporting leads to the downward spiral called the Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.
The authors suggest that one of the most important solutions avoiding or getting out of this downward spiral begins with the question: What does this organization really need to succeed?
When governance and organizational leaders as well as funders begin to answer that question with a shared voice they will breath new life into the organization. The organization will avoid its public obituary.
The governance partnership model offers two fundamental suggestions to those leaders that are seeking an answer to that important question:
1. Develop a shared commitment about mission. Define that shared commitment in the form of mission outcomes.
2. Develop a shared commitment about organizational performance. Define what organizational success means in the form of organizational results.
Organizations with good leadership need not starve to death.