In plumbing the old archives to find some entries that might stand the test of time, I found an entry where I cited a suggestion made by The Non-Profiteer that social service non-profits follow the example of arts organization leadership structure.
What she was praising was the practice of having an executive and artistic director focused on different aspects of the organization’s activities. The thing was, even at that time arts organizations were moving in the opposite direction consolidating leadership under a single person in order to save money.
Reading The Non-Profiteer’s post, she presents an argument against using overhead as a measure of effectiveness years before it was the topic of conversation it is today.
Wouldn’t social service agencies operate better with someone at the helm whose expertise was effective service to clients and someone at the rudder whose expertise was squeezing every dime til it shrieked? These are not identical skills–they’re not even complementary–and for charities to insist on combining them into a unitary Executive Director means one part of what they need done will almost inevitably be done badly.
And if donors are serious about wanting to see rigorous metrics of charities’ effectiveness, they’ll recognize that it takes two: one leader to innovate, experiment and rethink client services and another to measure, evaluate and assess the results.
Since evaluation of organizational effectiveness is shifting toward outcomes over time, ensuring the organization is adhering to their planned arc of progress and collecting requisite data will require an investment of greater attention.
Think about your arts organization, are the top executive(s) able to provide the appropriate leadership to accomplish both the programmatic and administrative goals? Are the top people in charge of these areas invested with appropriate authority to accomplish these things? (In other words, does the program manager really need to be at least a director or vice-president?)