Fear Can Be Paralytic, But It Can Also Be a Great Motivator

by Wagner blogger

Good management is good management, and the current fiscal and economic crisis has the potential to impel nonprofit organizations toward making the tough decisions they should have been making all along, according to consultant Jack Ukeles, founder and president of Ukeles Associates, Inc.

The Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner welcomed representatives from philanthropies, nonprofit organizations, and the general public to a March 4, 2009, forum where Ukeles and Barbara Cohn Berman discussed “Doing More With Less: Can Jewish and Other Nonprofits Turn Crisis into Opportunity?”

The particular characteristics of the nonprofit field – such as a tendency to diffuse authority, the difficulty of measuring success, and dependence on outside sources for funding – mean that nonprofits require a particular approach in responding to a society-wide economic recession/depression. If a nonprofit can manage in a crisis, manage the crisis, and use the crisis to improve management, it has the potential to emerge stronger than ever. Ukeles shared tactics for applying these strategies, with a focus on management improvement: streamlining operations, setting priorities, managing performance, and examining restructuring options. Cohn Berman emphasized the importance of gathering information from all possible sources, including clients, and of keeping interested parties invested in the process.

Ukeles and Cohn Berman’s counsel grows out of significant experience in the field. Ukeles advised the New York City government during the 1975 fiscal crisis, and has consulted for hundreds of nonprofit organizations. Cohn Berman is Vice President of the National Center for Civic Innovation and its sister organization, the Fund for the City of New York and the founding director of their Center on Government Performance. Her focus is on helping the government and nonprofit organizations manage change.

To make their expertise available to a wider audience, the Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner has published “Doing More With Less: Can Jewish and Other Nonprofits Turn Crisis into Opportunity?” and is available below.


cross-posted at NYU Wagner blog