Q1: Using Peter Frumkin’s model of the Four Functions of Nonprofit and Voluntary Action, how would you describe MeadowMarsh Service Agency.
Ans: Peter Frumkin focuses on four primary functions of Non Profit and Voluntary organizations and believes that success can be achieved by them only if all of these functions are balanced. He describes these organizations as
- Vehicles of Service Delivery
- Promoters of Civic and Political engagements
- Vehicles for Social Entrepreneurship
- Enactors of Values and Faiths
With reference to the above MeadowMarsh Service Agency is basically a service delivery organization. It provides housing, counseling and support service to homeless women and children; runs a day-care center for deinstitutionalized people and a sheltered workshop. Its largest project was a regional alternative school for special-needs children, which was discontinued.
Q2: Discuss three ways in which you think that the board failed the MeadowMarsh Service Agency.
Ans: The executive director of MeadowMarsh, Lucille Baci fired the head of counseling without notice and due process. The staff appealed to the Board to fire her. The Board refused, held meetings for six months and finally extended her tenure by another year at the suggestion of an arbitrator. This caused major discontent among the staff, which the Board could not stem, and resulted in the break of unity amongst them. A few months later, most of the counseling staff left without notice and set up another agency in the same town, badly damaging the reputation of MeadowMarsh. The Board was also unaware of the workings of the organization and its biggest project was shut down without their knowledge and the Board members had no alternative program ready to replace it.
Q3: What is your assessment of the board's ability to turn MeadowMarsh around? Substantiate your response.
Ans: The current economic situation the world over particularly in the US is very difficult. “The prevailing financial pattern of the non-profit sector has become one not only of commonly higher costs and new solutions but of more resources required for old problem.” ( Filer John H. Filer Commission Report-Giving in America: Toward a Stronger Voluntary Sector (Ott and Dicke) Therefore the Board will have to look at avenues to reverse its economic downslide. If it can get the organization operating under a new director who is dynamic and proactive it may be able to turn MeadowMarsh around. Also “Freed from the profit motive that dominates business and from the constraints of the government, the non-profit sector serves as a forum for the creation and dissemination of new ideas” (Ott and Dicke, What is the Non Profit Sector (Introduction to the Non Profit Center, Part 1, Board Source, p11), so if the Board looks at new services that can bring in more donations, MeadowMarsh will definitely benefit.
Q4. If you were asked to assess MeadowMarsh, what organizational problems you would describe to the board?
Ans: “Non-profits become trustworthy by the selection and screening of leaders” (Young, Dennis R Contract Failure Theory (Ott and Dicke, p155). I believe this is where the biggest failure of MeadowMarsh lies. The people running the organization did not have the basic qualities of a non-profit worker – “blend of personal passion and voluntary action for public good” (Ott & Dicke, Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector (p 2)
There also seems to have been a tremendous communication gap within the organization. The closure of one of their biggest project without the knowledge of the director and the Board speaks volumes regarding this shortcoming.
“Nondistribution constraint prohibits those who control the [non-profit] organization (managers, trustees) from distributing surpluses (profits) for their personal benefit” (Young, Dennis R Contract Failure Theory (Ott and Dicke, p155). There was obviously some problem in this sector of operations of MeadowMarsh; the results of its poor management policies are evident from the drastic drop in its budget growth figure from the third year.
Q 5: What do you believe caused the problems you identified in question 4?
Ans: The executive director Lucille Baci’s arbitrary sacking of the head of counseling created a rift amongst the staff. It obviously demotivated them to the extent that a few months later they left enmasse to start another agency.
The dissatisfaction and unhappiness amongst the staff was also the reason behind the tremendous communication gap within the organization. Infighting resulted in the operations being negatively impacted and ultimately in the resignation of a number of employees, without notice to the board.
Unless there was some definite mismanagement of funds, it is not possible for the budget growth figures of an organization to drop from a healthy +42% in year 2 to -18% in year 3
Q 6: Discuss four immediate actions you would advise the board to take to improve the situation for MeadowMarsh.
Ans: The appointment of a new, proactive executive director is the primary and most immediate step that the Board must take. It must look beyond Barbara Johnson, the candidate proposed by the ex-director Lucille Baci, and find the candidate they feel will be able to turn around MeadowMarsh.
The second action is to systematically work out all the programs it has, and appoint correct people to head each project with a dedicated team to implement the programs.
The third action should be to explore the needs of the community and introduce newer programs that can bring in more donations; which will thereby improve the financials of MeadowMarsh.
Finally, they need to restore the goodwill of MeadowMarsh in the community. They should be able to positively impact the perception of the community if they become more transparent in their operations and show up the good work they are doing.
Q 7: Justify your response to question 6 by explaining why you think your suggested actions should be prioritized.
Ans: A non-profit organization is “where people initiate activities and programs to ameliorate, remedy or ‘pick up pieces’ behind societies most grievous problems.” (Ott & Dicke, Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector (p 2) . In order to achieve this purpose the Board must take the actions suggested by me. These actions will not only take MeadowMarsh out of the red, but also reestablish its reputation in the community.
Q 8: If the board were to adopt your solutions, what is likely to happen to the agency (be specific in your response)?
Ans: If the Board were to adopt my solutions it would become a cohesive agency. Its programs would be run smoothly and the financial condition of MeadowMarsh would improve dramatically. Finally it would get back the lost respect of the community.
Q 9: Write a memorandum to the board (in your capacity as board chair) outlining your position on the hiring of Barbara Johnson and justifying why you believe she should/should not be hired. If you choose the latter, suggest an alternative course of action.
MEMORANDUM TO: Board of Directors
This memorandum requests the immediate appointment of an Executive Director of the non-profit organization MeadowMarsh Service Agency.
With the sudden resignation of Ms Lucille Baci, MeadowMarsh has been left without a titular and executive head. No work is being done; the largest project, the regional alternative school for children with special needs, has been discontinued. No new program has been planned or initiated to replace the same.
Ms Barbara Johnson, a candidate recommended by the ex-director Ms Lucille Baci has been interviewed. She has been offered the position of Executive Director, but is yet to get back to the Board.
Ms Johnson has been associated with MeadowMarsh as a consultant for the past six months and is aware of the workings of the organization. But she is a close friend of the ex-director Ms Lucille Baci. There is a chance that Ms Johnson may get influenced by her friend once she takes up her position as executive director. I believe what we require to get new blood into the organization and rework the operations. Factionalism among the staff has to be avoided at all cost. So we should advertise for the post and interview a few more candidates before deciding on appointing Ms Johnson.
Chairman of the Board
Q 10: If you took the job of executive director, how would you approach building the capacity of the board and increasing its effectiveness?
Ans: If I was the executive director of MeadowMarsh I would firstly divide the board members into different teams with different areas of interest. For example one set would concentrate on the financial aspect of the organization, another set would look into existing projects while a third would investigate and suggest new projects and the fourth would work on image building of MeadowMarsh. But all the teams would have to work in conjunction with each other and meet at least once a month to exchange notes and get updated on the entire operations.
Q 11: What values guided your responses to the questions above?
Ans: While all the Seven Core Values, as defined by Salamon, Geller and Newhouse in their book “What Do Non Profits Stand For?” guided my responses to the above questions, the main values were
- Productive – By reorganizing itself MeadowMarsh should be able to create new jobs
- Effective – By creating new programs it should be able to make a difference in the lives of deprived individuals and the community as a whole
- Enriching - Being basically an education oriented non-profit organization, Meadowmarsh in its revamped mode will be able to provide opportunities for people to learn and grow
- Reliable – It should be able to function in a transparent and accountable manner.
- Caring – its entire area of operation is for the underprivileged section of society.
Q 12: Using the Seven Core Values of the Nonprofit Sector outlined in the Salamon, Geller, & Newhouse reading, indicate which of these values are embedded in the responses your advocated above. List the value and your response.
RESPONSE MeadowMarsh will be able to provide employment to a number of people once it revamps itself. All the counseling staff that has left will have to be replaced; any new project involves new recruitment
RESPONSE While current programs of the organization are already contributing to improve the quality of life of the community; by restarting the closed project, the alternative school for children with special needs, MeadowMarsh can fulfill this value. It should look for newer projects that will help it reach out to more people.
RESPONSE Education is a constant need in the community. Providing it for free or at minimal costs is the duty of a non-profit organization. By restarting its closed project MeadowMarsh will be able to fulfill this value, particularly since it is aimed at children with special needs.
RESPONSE Since it is “freed from the profit motive that dominates business” the workings of any non-profit organization has to be absolutely transparent. New systems have to be put in place so that MeadowMarsh becomes completely accountable for its actions to its donors.
RESPONSE MeadowMarsh is already working for the betterment of the underprivileged class. It has to continue providing support to the homeless women and children. It should look for more avenues to create better opportunities for them.
Q 13: In your interview for the position of Executive Director you are asked to help the board understand social capital, it’s value to nonprofits and the communities they serve, and how MeadowMarsh can build and utilize social capital to advance it’s mission. The board seems pleased with your response and asks you to write it up so that it can be used to inform staff and board members who were not present at the interview. Use Schneider’s
Ans: Social Capital is “relationships based in patterns of reciprocal, enforceable trust that enable people and institutions to gain access to resources like social services, volunteers or funding” says Jo Anne Shneider in her essay Organizational Social Capital and Non Profits.
With the new executive director and reorganization of MeadowMarch it is now our time to make things work. Our primary objective should be to take the books from red to black. Social Capital is vital to the development and survival of non-profits as an organization.
Using our own strengths we should tap into our own social capital. Let us all look at our own existing networks and develop them further. Let us draw on the resources of the community as a whole and not just a list of few donors. We could also reach beyond to the senior services organizations, the government and the networks of seniors beyond the community. This will look after our funding issue.
Volunteers should also be recruited in a similar fashion. Let us use our networking ties in the community to find dedicated personnel who come through recommendations.
Referrals to agencies offering complimentary services can enhance an agency’s ability to meet its own program participant needs so let us identify the various programs on offer, talk to the organizations offering them, and build up a relationship of trust with them.
Q 14: Using Smith and Lipsky’s Chapter on Nonprofit Organizations and Community, assess MeadowMarsh’s
- Actions related to developing pathways to participation
- Nature as a Nonprofit Service Agency.
Ans: a. In order to develop pathways to participation, MeadowMarsh has a Board with 15 members, drawn from the local community. Its chairperson is the owner of the local dry goods store. Its day care center and the sheltered workshop were largely supported by volunteers. The counselors are dedicated workers but lowly paid.
b. As per Smith and Lipsky’s definition, MeadowMarsh is the third type of Non- Profit organization, the organization devoted to solving local problems. MeadowMarsh as a non-profit organization was founded in response to the unmet needs of the community. It is trying to solve the problem of housing for homeless women and children. Community problem solving is its primary aim, be it a day care center for deinstitutionalized people or a sheltered workshop. Its largest project was a regional school for children with special needs which has currently been discontinued.
Use Sal Giambanco’s ideas to inform MeadowMarsh about ways in which it can develop an effective human capital strategy to achieve greater impact. Communicate your response i in a memo to the agency Director and cc the Board President.
MEMORANDUM TO: Agency director
In any organization the most important factor is the human capital, the people you need to execute the ideas and strategies of the company. In the newly revamped MeadowMarsh let us analyze the whole thing and develop an effective human capital strategy to achieve greater impact.
MeadowMarsh is emerging out of tremendous upheavals. There have been a lot of resignations and we are in the process of new recruitments.
Let us use Sal Giambanco’s expertise and make MeadowMarsh into a successful non-profit organization manned by a group of happy motivated people. The basic idea is to first work out the business strategy of the organization. Once that is in place, let us find the right people to execute those ideas. Let us engage them and then work towards retaining them.
Talent evaluation is a very important factor in this process. We must do extensive background checks, reference checks before hiring someone. Their past performance is after all the predictor of their future performance.
Let us look at their potential and work out how to maximize their performance. This exercise we must conduct at regular intervals so that there is no slackening in performance and each and every individual associated with MeadowMarsh is motivated to give in their best.
Cc. President of the Board
Filer John H. Filer Commission Report-Giving in America: Toward a Stronger Voluntary Sector
(Ott and Dicke)
Ott and Dicke, What is the Non Profit Sector
(Introduction to the Non Profit Center, Part 1, Board Source, p11)
Young, Dennis R Contract Failure Theory (Ott and Dicke, p155)
Ott & Dicke, Introduction to the Nonprofit Sector (p 2)
Salamon Lester M , Geller Stephanie L & Newhouse Chelsea L, What do Non Profits Stand For? (Johns Hopkins University Press).