The issue of the effectiveness of nonprofits is a controversial and complex question that has been discussed by professionals and scholars for a long time. Lecy et al. (2012) have conducted a review of scholarly literature investigating the effectiveness of non-governmental (NGO) and not-for-profit organizations (NPO). Due to the multifaceted nature of the nonprofit sector’s performance, its effectiveness also entails achievements in multiple spheres of performance. These spheres include finances, transparency, accountability, social impact, and others. Therefore, Lecy et al. (2012) argue that the evaluation of the effectiveness of NGO and NPO should reflect the multifaceted nature of their performance and have an interdisciplinary basis.
The analyzed article introduces the theoretical background to the problem by discussing the concept of organizational effectiveness, its application to the field of nonprofit organizations, and the historical perspective on the scholarly investigation of the issue. The authors then present the methodology of the study, which is a structured literature review (Lecy et al., 2012). Having reviewed key studies on nonprofit effectiveness, the scholars identified that the majority of studies were of a conceptual nature with no specific evidence provided. Also, the studies that investigated effectiveness had various approaches to defining effectiveness in the context of NGO and NPO. Based on their synthesis, the following notions of effectiveness were identified, namely “project impact, ﬁnancial efﬁciency, managerial effectiveness, board effectiveness, and effective use of partnerships and networks” (Lecy et al., 2012, p. 445). Thus, it was found that effectiveness in a nonprofit setting is multidimensional and entails performance excellence in various domains of company operations.
Overall, the managerial, program, and network effectiveness, as well as legitimacy, are identified as key characteristics of the effectiveness of NGO and NPO. These elements might be evaluated separately to provide a general perspective on the effectiveness of an organization as a whole (Lecy et al., 2012). The main conclusion made by the authors of the article is that the evaluation of nonprofits’ effectiveness must be based on an interdisciplinary approach that would suffice the variety of domains within which such organizations operate. These findings go in accord with the previously reviewed readings, where authors discussed the importance of nonprofits to manage multidimensional procedures to achieve their missions and goals.
Indeed, Guo and Saxton’s (2014) identified that the establishment of functional relationships with stakeholders using a variety of channels contributes to the quality of organizational performance. Thus, for effective performance, nonprofits must demonstrate a high level of expertise in stakeholder relationship building and fundraising, using various tools (Bekkers & Wiepking, 2011; Guo & Saxton, 2014). Also, the effectiveness of managerial performance that is regarded to be one of the key evaluation elements of organizational effectiveness entails proper volunteer work and recruitment of personnel, which ultimately defines how the nonprofit performs in its respective market (Hager & Brudney, 2011). However, the article by Lecy et al. (2012) contributes much scholarly consideration to the notion of effectiveness evaluation reliability.
The reviewed article has significantly contributed to my knowledge and expanded my personal experience. I managed to clarify the notion of effectiveness in the context of nonprofit organizational performance. My considerations as per the evaluation of the outcomes as successful or unsuccessful primarily had been determined by the ability of an organization to achieve its mission and goals. However, this study helped me establish that selecting particular measurement elements, such as managerial effectiveness, network effectiveness, program effectiveness, and legitimacy, brings more objectivity to the evaluation procedure and allows for implementing an interdisciplinary approach.
Bekkers, R., & Wiepking, P. (2011). A literature review of empirical studies of philanthropy: Eight mechanisms that drive charitable giving. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40(5), 924-973.
Guo, C., & Saxton, G. D. (2014). Tweeting social change: How social media are changing nonprofit advocacy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 43(1), 57-79.
Hager, M. A., & Brudney, J. L. (2011). Problems recruiting volunteers: Nature versus nurture. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 22(2), 137-157.
Lecy, J. D., Schmitz, H. P., & Swedlund, H. (2012). Non-governmental and not-for-profit organizational effectiveness: A modern synthesis. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 23(2), 434-457.