First and foremost, Dr. Alicia Schatteman is a true thought leader in the field of nonprofit studies. Her involvement as an Associate Professor in the Center for NGO Leadership and Development and the Department of Public Administration at Northern Illinois University highlights that fact, but her vision and values propel it home.
She challenges the status quo of those who want to start nonprofits by posing a difficult question: Are you sure? Maybe you should just donate your time to a similar nonprofit first. If that doesn't work, then donate your money. If that doesn't work, and you think you have a better idea than similar nonprofits, sell or pitch your idea to a strong similar nonprofit. And if all those actions don't pan out, then go take nonprofit management courses and formulate an airtight business plan. Our communities need effective nonprofits to thrive, they don't need only the charity mindset of doing good work just to do good work.
And her message to nonprofits is equally as blunt: So what? It's easy to document outputs, but what about outcomes? How exactly do you know what you're doing is truly effective? Nonprofits need people willing to consider data meaningfully and also have the buy-in, especially from leadership. Nonprofits need an organizational culture of data collection. Consider this quote from the episode:
"Do you want to capture evidence to tell you how you're doing on a regular basis, and then use that data to support decision-making? If you don't, then don't collect data."
Addressing the big issues of our society like poverty and hunger require nonprofits to be more strategic and to have professionalized staff. Luckily, over the last 20 years, universities across the United States have rolled out programs dedicated to nonprofit management and, as a result, the nonprofit sector is professionalizing. That's the silver lining.
The quote of the show:
"If you have a large ego, go start a business. Put your name on the marquee. Nonprofits? Your name should be in small print at the very bottom. You want to create nonprofits that outlive you and your time. You are stewards of an organization. Strengthening and growing it in order to hand it off to the next stewards? Then you're in the right mindset."
Advice for those wanting to go in the nonprofit sector:
"Get involved in your community, find out your passion. There's an organization that shares your passion - connect with them. Volunteering, donating, do that little bit of good wherever you are because that's what makes a thriving society."
Advice for students considering nonprofit management:
"The Masters of Public Administration at Northern Illinois University is a generalist program, we straddle public and nonprofit management. We also have a 2-year paid internship (perhaps the only existing program in the United States), and we pride ourselves in finding jobs right out of the gate. Get up your undergraduate scores as high as possible. Your test scores do matter but so does your passion. We require a personal statement and sometimes that matters more than grades."
Guru™ Show Notes (What's Mentioned in the Podcast, In Order):
- The New Jersey Historical Society
- "Wounded Warrior Project Spent $250,000 on Candy and Even More on Gimmicks," Daily Beast: March 10, 2016
- Dr. Schatteman's Consulting
- Chicago Museum of Science and Industry's About Us
- The Guggenheim Foundation's [Crazy] Mission Statement
- "It’s Not Just Semantics: Managing Outcomes Vs. Outputs," Harvard Business Review: November 26, 2012
- Dr. Schatteman's Research
- "A Force for Impact: Millennials in the Nonprofit Sector, " ProInspire: October 2015
- "Strategic Plans Are Less Important than Strategic Planning," Harvard Business Review: June 21, 2016
- Lonely Island Book Pick(s): Mission Control by Liana Downey | The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway | The Happy Healthy Nonprofit by Beth Kanter
- Uncharitable by Dan Pallotta | Dan Pallotta's TED Talk
- Lonely Island Record Pick: The Rankin Family
- Lonely Island Website Pick: Library of Congress
- Lonely Island App Pick: Ancestry.com
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