Management Support Organizations – Their Highest Potential

Management Support Organizations come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the community, the list might include these and others who provide some form of management support for Community Benefit Organizations:

• Nonprofit Resource Center
• Volunteer Center
• Leadership Organization
• Coalitions, Federations, Associations
• Neighborhood Empowerment / Community Organizing Organization
• Community Convening Organization
• Community Foundation
• United Way

This web of groups makes up the infrastructure that supports the many faces of the Community Benefit Sector.

Ask someone inside these organizations, “What would it look like if your organization were 100% successful?” and generally their first answer is something like this:  “Organizations in our community would be strong, to do the work they need to do.”

It is when we ask the next question that people’s faces light up: “If organizations were strong enough to do the work they need to do, what would that make possible?”

The answer is always the same, this time said with a smile so wide I can usually hear it over the phone.

“If all those organizations were strong and capable, the quality of life in our community would be significantly better. Our community would be healthy, vibrant, resilient, humane.”

If the purpose of ensuring organizational strength is to create extraordinary communities, then that is not only the highest potential of those individual food banks and arts organizations and after school programs; it is also the highest potential of the Management Support Organizations that support the food banks and arts organizations and after school programs!

What if that potential was the conscious aim of every Nonprofit Resource Center, Volunteer Center and Leadership Organization – of every Coalition, every Community Foundation, every United Way?

What if each of those organizations consciously aligned all their programs and all their own infrastructure behind that ultimate goal – building an extraordinary community?

What would that make possible? And what would have to change to make it so?

Find out in Part 2 of this post!

4 thoughts on “Management Support Organizations – Their Highest Potential”

  1. In just one program, the non-profit sector Leaves $250 Million on the table every year, MSOs can help non-profits get it.

    It is my contention that one area where all non-profits can agree is in the promotion of workplace giving as a common good. If sixty percent of all employees working invested just $5 per pay period in the community non-profits of their choice, it would make a huge difference to thousands of non-profits in the United States. If 60 percent (which is an attainable goal) of all Federal employees participated in the CFC, it would double the amount donated annually to $500 million, which would go to thousands of local, national, and international charities. If the procedures were changed to make it possible for Federal retirees and survivor spouses to continue to participate in the CFC upon retirement, the potential is for that $500 million to double again to $1 billion annually.

    Let me be clear, I am recommending that the entire non-profit sector promote workplace giving by designation, and through payroll deduction. By this method, as exemplified by the Combined Federal Campaign, more than 92% of the funds go to charities designated specifically by the donors.

    I am not in favor of promoting the arrogant method of workplace giving, “Give me your money, I’m smarter than you, and maybe I’ll tell you where I spent it.”

    A second organizational common good that I believe the entire non-profit sector should promote, and would benefit by doing is to encourage all staff members to serve on the board of directors of a non-profit that is not in competition with the employing non-profit. And this means that if the other non-profit has a board meeting Tuesday at noon, the staff member is excused to go to the board meeting. This would provide a staff development opportunity and strengthen the sector by having more people who actually understand non-profits, contributing in the board room.

    This recommendation about encouraging non-profit professionals to serve on non-profit boards addresses two issues that the sector has identified as major concerns:

    1) Professional development of nonprofit staff, and serving on a board helps in this arena.

    2) In many cases, board service will also be an exercise in working across generations, as Frances Kunreuther says in the report How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector – “how will it change the structure of your organization, including boards? (p9 in the report).

    Many MSOs have some type of recommended guidelines/best practices for their members. If these recommendations were adopted by the MSOs it would help the entire sector.

    Bill Huddleston

  2. I’m looking forward to the rest of this series. I work with a nonprofit that supports other nonprofits, but this is the first time I have thought of it a having the potential to be a management support organization. My brain is swirling


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