What’s Different About NPOs?

Consider several questions posed to the group of 30 executive directors, managers, and staff participating in the Nonprofit Supervision & Management Series at ONEplace@KPL:

Is managing in a nonprofit organization (NPO) different than managing in the private sector? Is it different than managing in a governmental organization? If so, what is different?

The major difference cited by the course participants was: not being able to use financial rewards (raises, bonuses, stock options, etc.) as an incentive for performance or as a reward for outstanding results.  While that is true for most NPOs and is well understood by those working in the nonprofit sector, it makes me wonder if there are other significant differences – is managing simply managing or is it really different from one sector to another?

What do you think? What is your experience? Inquiring minds would like to know.

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1 Comment

  1. Hmmmmmmm –

    I vividly remember the day 22 years ago when my first private sector boss gave me a “Just Because” bonus. It was about a month after I had started to work for him. I had been used to doing an NPO type “monthly report” of activities / objectives done, etc., and so I decided to do one for the new gig. I had learned over time that it was as important for me to do this as a wrap up of the month as to give to my manager, but I thought I would print him out a copy as well. I had said to myself “Hey, lots done! Whew!!” Little did I know that Ben Franklin’s smiling up at me from the unexpected bill I got would be so cool. Welcome to my then new world.


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