Advancing nonprofit organizational effectiveness research and theory: Nine theses

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Abstract

Drawing on the general literature on organizational effectiveness, the specialized literature on nonprofit organizational effectiveness, and recent research in the field, this article advances nine theses, or conclusions, about the effectiveness of public benefit charitable, nonprofit organizations (NPOs). NPO effectiveness is (1) always comparative, (2) multidimensional, (3) related to board effectiveness (but how is not clear), (4) related to the use of correct management practices but not in any simple “best practices” way, and (5) a social construction. Furthermore, (6) it is unlikely that there are any universally applicable best practices that can be prescribed for all NPO boards and management, (7) organizational responsiveness is a useful organizational-level effectiveness measure, (8) distinguishing among types of NPOs is important and useful, and (9) level of analysis makes a difference in researching and understanding effectiveness. The article concludes by considering implications for organizational practice, boards and governance practices, program evaluation, including program outcomes assessment, and capacity building and capacity builders.

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