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Horns of Dilemma

Statewide Association of Nonprofit Organizations (SANO) provides capacitybuilding assistance to small and mid-sized nonprofits. Division of Youth and Family
Services (DYFS) provides around 40% of fund for this purpose. Through this partnership
with DYFS, SANO has gained significance among nonprofits and reputation with private
funders. The new executive director of SANO has found that the organization, which was
apparently stable, had perpetual fiscal problems, which he was supposed to fix. But the
board of directors is not interested in the financial matters of the organization. The board
does not approve any entrepreneurship, so SANO has been left to depend on traditional
funding sources, such as foundations and especially DYFS. This fact has made SANO
largely dependent upon DYFS, which provides 40% of the budget of SANO. Provided
the fact that SANO is heavily dependent upon DYFS, the latter is converting the nature of
symbiotic relationship into parasitism. In the middle of the financial year SANO was
informed that under the same contract, with the same amount of fund, it is obliged to
provide training to DYFS personnel and to complete a previous project which, according
to DYFS, was left incomplete.
Analyzing the case following issues come to fore:
1.

The apathy of the Board of Directors of SANO, particularly regarding the

2.

financial matters of the organization.


A symbiotic relationship characterized with an overdependence of SANO on

3.

DYFS.
SANOs deliberate incognizance of the issue of developing this dependence

4.

over time.
The informal unofficiated nature of relationship with DYFS, which has left an
ambiguity on rules, and principles of mutual relationship. Tony, the board

president and Dino, the ex-director of DYFS, while interacting with DYFS,
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have demonstrated this nature of relationship.


Ignoring the need and importance of entrepreneurship for SANO by the board

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of directors.
A change in the attitude of DYFS, unilaterally changing the contract in the
middle of the year to include direct service to DYFS and the completion of a
left over project without any further funding for the new services.
SANO has been left in a dilemma, whether it should compromise on its

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primary objective of training the client nonprofits or the financial source


8.

which makes all this possible.


A disclosure of the internal crises of SANO may harm its integrity, which can

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affect its rapport with clients and funders, and may harm its financial health.
Acquiescence to DYFS may resonate its determination to enhance the
parasitic relationship.

Looking at the problem through Cynefin Framework, it lays in Complex domain.


Jerry is supposed to probe, sense and then respond. Taking the case into Chaotic may
bring immediate misfortune for SANO. Now lets answer the question using this
framework to resolve the problem. The primary objective of SANO should be to liberate
itself from an unusual dependency on DYFS, commit itself to its mission and to maintain
its financial health.

1.

Jerry should not go for an unwise proactive option. He should accept the
two additional components of the contract. But at the same time he should
find resources to fulfill his previous commitments with SANOs client
organizations. The first step to find the resources should be to get an
additional allocation from DYFS through negotiations. It would have two

pronged effect: firstly, DYFS would reveal upon DYFS that SANO is not
easy to acquiesce to any unfair effort of subdual; secondly, SANO would
explore the possibility of the approving or disapproving of its request for
additional funds, which would determine its future line of action. In case it
could not get additional funds, SANO should turn toward other resources
2.

but it should meet the commitments under the contract.


The nature of the dependence of SANO on DYFS should be realized in the
beginning. The board of directors should be taken aboard. The
significance and the gravity of the problem should be made clear to the
board of directors. Jerry should have changed the unofficiated nature of
relationship between the two organizations and converted it into formal,
rule and principle based relationship. Jerry should not compromise on
boards take of not allowing entrepreneurship. Relating the issue of
overdependence on DYFS and its future results with SANOs scarcity of
resources he should have been able to convince the board of directors to
consider the option of entrepreneurship. As executive director he expected

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to be able to involve the board and be futuristic.


According to Herman, 2011, the board must make sure that the
organization has adequate financial resources to carry out its mission; the
members of the board are expected to take an active role as fundraisers.
Howe, 1989 assures that every board member can do something useful to
support the fund-raising effort, employing his/her own skills and
interests. But SANOs board of director demonstrates an apathetic
attitude toward the problems of the organization. Moreover the president

of the board has played an active role in perpetuating the parasitic


relationship with DYFS. The president of the board was obliged to
respond to the financial crises of the organization, which he took for,
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granted. The board never set to consider other options for fund raising.
Such symbiotic relationship not only compromises the integrity of the
organization but also it may affect those who are the beneficiaries of
SANO. An overdependence on DYFS and over the time ignoring to find
other sources of finance may lead to a situation where SANO may be
made to accept delivering services not mandated by its mission, and the
latter would be acquiescing to these demands for the sake of maintaining
its financial health and good name, while compromising on its mission. In
such relationship the quest for aggrandizement by some role players may
insist on the perpetuation of this state and thus compromise on the mission

5.

of the organization.
Descriptively, the organization, while keeping the nature of the board and
its relationship with DYFS in mind, it can be concluded that SANO would
compromise on its mission and acquiesce to the demands of the DYFS.
This will perpetuate the symbiotic nature of relationship. Given this state
of affairs, if another alternative is not opt for, SANO would not only loose
integrity, but name and DYFS too in the future.

References:
Herman, R. D. (2011). The Jossey-Bass handbook of nonprofit leadership and
management. John Wiley & Sons.

Howe, F. (1989). Fundraising and the Nonprofit Board Member. Washington,


D.C.: National Centre for Nonprofit Boards.