Management Support Organizations – Catalysts for Community Potential

(This is Part 3 of a 4-part article. Head here to start with Part 1.)

What would it look like in practice if Management Support Organizations were catalysts for Community Potential?

Here is just some of what that might be:

• The board and leadership of Management Support Organizations would see the organization’s purpose as being a catalyst for community wellness, vibrance, resilience – and their decisions would all aim towards those results.

• The Management Support Organization’s annual planning would aim at building community strength and “client” organizational strength at the same time.

• Systems would be developed for measuring the extent to which stronger organizational infrastructure is contributing to community change. The Management Support Organization could then evaluate its own progress by evaluating the increased effectiveness of  organizations in achieving that community success.

• Management Support Organizations would think of the organizations with whom they work as partners in creating extraordinary communities (rather than thinking of them as weak and/or dysfunctional clients with layers of problems to be solved).

• Programs would be developed with an eye towards permanently changing organizational behaviors and culture (rather than episodic skills development).

• Programs would be developed to build the collective capacity of multiple groups together – building trust among them, teaching by modeling cooperation in the very way the program is taught.

• Management Support Organizations would not only work to catalyze change in on-the-ground provider organizations, but would work just as intimately to enhance capacity among the community’s funders, who need that assistance and have few places to find it.

• Programs would be developed to teach funders how to fund cooperatively rather than competitively.

• Management Support Organizations would be funded as critical community infrastructure.

• The content taught in classes at Management Support Organizations would aim organizations at creating significant, visionary community change (rather than teaching the very things that keep organizations struggling with disengaged or micromanaging boards – or teaching them to compete and then wishing they would stop).

In other words, all aspects of a Management Support Organization’s work – from leadership and planning to program design and measurement – would be aligned behind Being the Change They Want to See.  Every aspect of the work WITHIN a Management Support Organization would be modeling and walking the talk of precisely what they want their partner / client organizations to do.

It all comes down to the following choice:

Management Support Organizations can choose to hold themselves accountable for simply providing educational programs.

Or they can hold themselves accountable for creating strong, healthy organizations.

Or they can choose to reach for the highest potential of the organizations they serve – creating a healthy, vibrant, resilient, humane future for the whole community.

Every day, Nonprofit Resource Centers, Volunteer Centers, Community Foundations and all the other organizations that provide infrastructure for community benefit work can choose which path to take.  Which direction will the Management Support Organizations in your community choose?


In Part 4 – the final part of this post – we hear from leaders in Management Support Organizations, talking about the potential they see as they aim their own work at creating extraordinary communities. Find that here!

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