21st Century Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector

21st Century Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector

Sharon G. Juozapavicius
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-068-2.ch027
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


The past decade has birthed not only remarkable advances in technology, but also an evolution of thought concerning nonprofit organizations. This ontogeny has brought the nonprofit sector face-to-face with a new reality. A certainty confronting head-on the old mores that have dictated the sensibilities by which a nonprofit’s manner and method were framed. Success, in the 21st century marketplace, now requires a non-profit to be both technically astute and business savvy. It must not only equal or outperform its sister agencies, but also meet challenges posed by the worlds of commerce and government. Its leadership in turn must be equipped to handle these challenges and oversee profitable processes and procedures. This chapter will consider four key requisites for nonprofit leaders in the 21st century: education, technology, know-how, and environment. It will examine the role each plays in a leadership portfolio, along with the difficulties and rewards inherent in their determination and utilization.
Chapter Preview


While many college graduates will enter a formal business environment, some will select the nonprofit sector as a life’s course (opting for what has been perceived as humanity versus cold corporate halls). However, there is a new mindset prevalent in the passageways of benevolence. Ushering in advances in technology and an expanded global perspective, the 21st century let fall the welcome mat of competition at the doorstep of every nonprofit. So forceful was this impact, that it altered the traditional non-business perspective of many nonprofits.

“Faced with rising costs, more competition for fewer donations and grants, and increased rivalry from for-profit companies entering the social sector, nonprofits are turning to the for-profit world to leverage or replace their traditional sources of funding. The drive to become more businesslike, however, holds many dangers for nonprofits.” (Dees, 1999, p. 137)

Like the fairytale frog, waiting to be transformed by the kiss of a princess, a nonprofit’s conversion from social enterprise to the business sector can be a long and arduous task. For some, the notion of even thinking like a for-profit organization may prove daunting. Consequently, nonprofit leadership understudies must possess the same businesses acumen as their corporate counterparts - and then some. They must not only be prepared to handle the day to day challenges faced by the business community, they must also maintain the skill sets of their predecessors when dealing in areas such as membership, volunteers, and fundraising.

“Many outside people think that the nonprofit sector has lower standards and a slower pace than the for-profit sector. . . . Let’s dispel those myths right off the bat. These days, a nonprofit leader cannot create results through mandate. He or she must build commitment, create consensus, and be active on the front line…

You must have in-depth understanding of your organization’s area of focus (health, education, the environment, etc.). You must be informed and strategic, yet hands-on. The environment in which nonprofits function today calls for far more accountability and transparency with the general public, regulatory bodies, and the organization’s volunteers, staff, and constituencies.” (Wheeler, 2009, pp. 14-15)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Approachability: The level of difficulty experienced by an individual, leader, or team when contacting another individual, leader, or team.

For-profit: Traditional method of business operation where income is held by the business or organization and may be distributed by whatever means the owners, shareholders, and policies allow.

Exit: The ability of an individual, leader, or team to sustain a positive relationship with another individual, leader, or team.

Nonprofit: An organization whose mission and structure are geared to providing some type of assistance or service with the intention that all funds above and beyond basic operating capital are used for the assistance or service provided.

Acceptance: The degree of ease with which ideas and opinions are able to be shared.

Capability: How well an organization utilizes all available resources.

Boundary Markers: Psychological barriers imposed by an individual, leader, or a team which are used to separate the individual, leader, or team from the all outside input. These barriers range in degree from Silos (extreme), to Stones (medium), to Sticks (moderate if any).

ROCE: Return on capability employed.

Entry: The level of comfort an individual, leader, or team experiences when interfacing with another individual, leader, or team.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: