Experiential-by-Design in Nonprofit Education

The University of San Francisco’s Leo T. McCarthy Center for Public Service and the Common Good  has been in the forefront of integrating community engagement in higher education. Recently, McCarthy Profiles for Community Engagement Learning included the reflections of Dr. Marco Tavanti on the MNA and now USF offered Academic Global Immersion (AGI-Rome) on Refugee Service Management as an example of experiential learning for global-local engagement (pp. 26-27).

Experiential learning, community engagement and project based education are probably the most important values behind the MNA Program. Our best practices in integrating professional experience and community have been recognized as emerging innovations and effective practices for nonprofit management education (NME), a field pioneered by Dr. Michael O’Neill in the MNA Program and his research.

In the accreditation process with the Nonprofit Academic Center Council (NACC) this feature of the MNA program was recognized as distinction of this degree as a learning beyond the classroom and beyond just service. In an article recently published by Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (JNEL) the advantage and strategic process of of integrating  a Nonprofit Management Education (NME) programs like ours into experiential learning is crucial.

This is an excerpt from the Tavanti & Wilp JNEL article entitled: Experiential-By-Design: Integrating Experiential Learning Strategies into Nonprofit Management Education.

“Learning through real-world experiences is a valued pedagogy in higher education and an essential method for educating effective nonprofit managers in the 21st century. The practical fields of management education and nonprofit management education (NME) aim to develop appropriate skills, competencies, and mind-sets relevant to administrative, organizational, and leadership careers. These objectives cannot be sufficiently accomplished through in-class lectures and activities only. They require more hands-on and community-centered approaches that increase student exposure to real-world situations while benefiting the capacity development needs of nonprofit organizations (NPOs) and the sector. When the NME field started offering nonprofit-specific graduate programs in the United States with the University of San Francisco’s Master in Nonprofit Organization Management (MPA/NOM in 1983), later renamed Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA in 1985), the need for experiential learning was not as urgent as today. Most of the students in the early development of the field were professionals with several years of experience in the sector. They sought theories to understand their own practices, along with university recognition for their leadership advancements (O’Neill & Fletcher, 1998; O’Neill & Young, 1988). The priority in these early years involved identifying the proper curriculum content rather than reflecting on the most appropriate pedagogical methods of delivery. In addition, because the students were already bringing their experiences into the classroom reflections and exercises, the need to utilize more community-centered methods was less of a priority. Michael O’Neill, along with Dennis R. Young and other NME pioneers, argued that the field had emerged to prepare those who were currently working in it or were preparing to be leaders and managers of private not-for-profit organizations, while educating public and private sector leaders and managers to interact more effectively with nonprofits (Dobkin Hall, O’Neill, Vinokur-Kaplan, Young, & Lane, 2001). Today, the distinction between very experienced and less experienced professional students is a major characteristic of the student population. This demands more strategic attention about how instructors teach and students learn, while providing more opportunities for university–community partnerships for capacity development. Properly designed experiential education activities, courses, and programs are fundamental for advancing the professional capacity of the sector and its future leaders (Cacciamani, 2017; Fenton & Gallant, 2016).

[…] “In graduate NME, experiential learning is and should be more than active learning or service learning. It is about working with NPOs to increase their organizational capacity, while accompanying students to become more effective in their competencies and capacity to consult, assess, and collaborate. The current shifts from experiential learning to experiential education and from service learning to community-engaged learning show the contributions of these models. The strategies and contextualization of the experiences in the University of San Francisco’s MNA Program can be adapted by other institutions and NME programs. They can do this by considering a community-centered model of education (Model 1), by considering a pedagogical praxis of students and community transformation (Model 2), and by designing programs that are relevant to local and global communities (Model 3).”

Model 1

This illustration shows the progression that NME program need to have to expand from a Teacher-centered model of teaching and learning into a Student-centered and beyond into a Community-centered type of experiential and project based methods

Model 2

This illustration shows how the methods for teaching and learning through experience and immersions align with the analysis and contextual engagement values of the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigms expressed as Praxis Learning.

Model 3

This illustration highlighting the AGI-Rome methods for refugee service and forced migration management indicates the importance of connecting the global immersion with the local engagement for educating global-local (glocal) mindsets while promoting capacities for working beyond borders.

[…]  “Active learning, problem-based learning, project-based learning, service learning, and place-based learning are some of the more well-known methods associated with experiential education (Godfrey, 1999). With the growth of NME programs internationally, there is also a clearer need for educating professionals not only with theoretical, philosophical, and historical notions but also with feasible projects and activities benefiting the learner and the partnering organizations.

Experiential learning is a growing field characterized by specific applied methods, a value-based philosophy, and shared benefits across teaching, learning, and communities. “Experiential education is a philosophy that informs many methodologies in which educators purposefully engage with learners in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills, clarify values, and develop people’s capacity to contribute to their communities. (Association for Experiential Education, para 4). This definition is not exclusive to formal education, but it is relevant to a general approach to teaching, learning, and engagement. A wide diversity of methods, strategies, and approaches relate to practices of experiential learning across disciplines. However, such a diversity is also a source of confusion in the field.

Wurdinger and Carlson (2010) provide a useful overview of the most effective approaches to experiential learning:

  1. Active Learning: A group of experiential learning activities associated with classroom strategies such as role playing, simulation, debates, presentations, and case studies.
  2. ProblemBased Learning: Inquiry-based learning activities through in-depth investigations, self-directed research, and group-work inquiries.
  3. ProjectBased Learning: A type of experiential learning that stimulates students’ interests while developing their project management capacity, technology, and research skills and analytical presentation capacity. It can be individual or group work, teacher directed, student directed, or a combination of the two.
  4. Service Learning: A well-known approach to teaching and learning that often includes planning (community needs), action (service), and reflection (learning). The emphasis is on learning. It can be student centered or community based.
  5. Placed-Based Learning: A learning focused on a particular place or context. It is a holistic approach to education that uses the immersion into a context to support the vitality of a community. It can be far (global) or near (local).

Excerpt from:

Tavanti, M. & Wilp, E. A. (2018). Experiential-By-Design: Integrating Experiential Learning Strategies into Nonprofit Management Education. Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (JNEL), Special Issue of the Bi-Annual Nonprofit Academic Center Council Conference, 1-23. ISSN: 2157-0604.

Available full text at the Journal of Nonprofit Education and Leadership (JNEL) https://js.sagamorepub.com/jnel 

University of San Francisco MNA students meeting with the UNHCR EU representative during the Refugee Service Management AGI-Rome Global Immersion Program – January 2017. Many operators at this international organization have started their career with volunteers experiences and management entry works in nonprofits and NGOs serving forced migrants.
Dr. Tavanti with MNA and MIMS students during the AGI-Rome international Immersion Program 2018 after the visit to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in their Italian office in Rome to understand their strategies to advocate for human rights and migration rights.

Learn more about these methods and the impact on the students and our communities here http://agirome.blogspot.com/ 

Learn more how the MNA Program integrate experiential learning for nonprofit management and leadership education here https://www.usfca.edu/management/graduate-programs/nonprofit-administration

Learn more about how our MNA program students learn through collaborative projects with nonprofit organizations and social enterprises in the Capstone Projects and Practicums for social impact analysis here http://usfblogs.usfca.edu/nonprofit/research/  

Nonprofit Innovation for Sustainability

Ocean CleanUp Launching in San Francisco on Saturday September 8, 2018. Photo Credit: Dr. Marco Tavanti, Ph.D.

Did you know that nonprofit are at the forefront of social and sustainable innovation? In spite the persisting misconceptions of what nonprofits really are and the studied nonprofit cycle of starvation, nonprofit organizations are cradles for remarkable innovative solutions to solve our community, social and global problems.

The Rockefeller Foundation has been contributing to assess and scale nonprofit sustainable and social innovation. We appreciate the many heroes (mostly SHEroes) that become founders of initiatives and organizations to respond to specific social/environmental needs. But we need to go beyond Heroprenuership and tackle the systemic issues that prevent innovation to really be socially relevant, community beneficial and reflective of sustainable values. Dan Pallotta’s challenges to stagnant ‘charity’ solutions to systemic problems remain relevant today in the nonprofit world. Innovation for the social and common good goes beyond narrow approaches of voluntarism and philanthropy but also of businesses and governance.

Big problems needs innovative and cross-sector solutions! They also require innovation in the way we structure and legislate organizations that should fulfill triple bottom lines for social (people), environmental (planet) and economic (prosperity), but also for policies (policies) and sustainable impact (partnerships).  There are many example that already do this. One example of nonprofit social/environmental and technological  innovation is The Ocean CleanUp, an initiative started with a high school student, Boyan Slat. The objective of the organization(s) is to offer concrete, innovative and feasible solution to trash that accumulates “in 5 ocean garbage patches, the largest one being the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, located between Hawaii and California. If left to circulate, the plastic will impact our ecosystems, health and economies. Solving it requires a combination of closing the source, and cleaning up what has already accumulated in the ocean.” These solutions aim at attract nonprofit donations but also social/sustainable business investments and government commitments for the oceans, along technological advancements, volunteer engagement and social consciousness.

Donations for The Ocean CleanUp can be in US dollars through the The Ocean Cleanup North Pacific Foundationa 501(c)(3) not-for-profit foundation registered in the USA or in Euros through the Stichting The Ocean Cleanupan ANBI foundation registered in the Netherlands. Both foundations pursuing the same goal of the organization. An ambitious project of this kind requires to go beyond innovation into scaling and impact and sustainable impact. Learn more about this project and how the technological innovation and scientific discoveries work in parallel with government policies, human behaviors and business opportunities to make the world and our oceans prosperous for life to thrive for all.

35 Years of Nonprofit Management Education

Dr. Micheal O’Neill and Dr. Marco Tavanti, past and current MNA Program Directors

In 2018 the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA Program) at University of San Francisco celebrated its 35 years of existence since its foundation in 1983 by Dr. Michael O’Neill. The 35th MNA Anniversary Celebration of April 25th featured a panel reflecting on the accomplishments and challenges of nonprofit management education in the 21st Century. This video shares some of the highlights of the events and the valued reflections provided provided by our alumni Jeanne Bell (MNA ’01) and Alexa Cortez Culwell (MNA ’95).

The following are Dr. Marco Tavanti’s opening remarks to the April 25th Anniversary Celebrations

Thank you and welcome to this Panel Discussion and Celebration of the Master of Nonprofit Administration Program Celebration of its 35 Years of Excellence and Social Innovation. We are honored today to have a panel of experts – that will introduce shortly — and that will help us to understand some of the main challenge and opportunities in nonprofit education, community responsibility and capacity development. After an award ceremony we will continue our networking celebrations upstairs in the 5th floor AGORA where you can meet MNA alumni, friends and students while also viewing MNA Capstone Posters samples and Infographics from the annual Academic Global Immersion Program on Refugee. In the meantime (and to earn your drinks) you should also respond to the survey in front of you. On the table you can also find a card where you can formulate a question you may have for the panelists.

The Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm, is a Jesuit method for teaching and learning embedded in our current MNA degree. It starts with observing the reality (seen it also through immersions and experiential learning), followed by the analysis (often through multidisciplinary perspectives and mixed methodologies to understand complex and unjust realities of marginalization), and the action into making the world a better place such as the USF slogan (Change the World from Here…). What was known in Latin America as VER, JULGAR, ACTUAR, has been integrated by impact evaluation and contextualization into our local/global and diverse communities. More recently this method included a new dimension CELEBRAR, to celebrate our accomplishments. Our celebration of the 35th anniversary of the MNA program reflects all these paradigms and invites us to take time to pause, observe, reflect, a celebrate the past and future of nonprofit management education.

In 1983, Dr. Michael O’Neill had the pioneering vision of designing a graduate degree to develop managerial and leadership capacity for nonprofit professionals. The MNA Program was accompanied by the research activities of the Institute for Nonprofit Organization Management (INOM) which followed other academic innovations such as the establishment of Nonprofit Academic Center Council (NACC) in 1981 and the creation of the Association of Voluntary Action Scholars later renamed as Association for Research on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action (ARNOVA) in 1971. Dr. Michael O’Neill is known as the father of nonprofit management education (NME) that emerged as a field of study through these and other pioneering activities in which he was deeply involved.

While Dr. Michael O’Neill worked on developing the field of NME in the West Coast University of San Francisco, one of his colleague in the East Coast, Prof. Lester Salamon at the Washington DC Urban Institute (now at John Hopkins University) contributed to understand the scope and structure of the nonprofit sector. Today, nonprofit/nongovernmental/charities/philanthropic and voluntary institutions are major forces for good contributing to almost 6% of the American economy and 1/6 of the labor force in California. Internationally, the third sector institutions include a wider spectrum of organizations including hybrid social enterprises and social innovations solutions for the emerging world social economy. Our MNA students know about these developments and also know that both social and economic impact needs to be equally considered and measured to understand the true value of the sector.

In the last 35 years, the Program has generated 612 alumni in key leadership positions and influential roles for the advancement of the capacity, impact and sustainability of the sector.  We are honored today to have with us two of these MNA alumni, Alexa Cortes Culwell (MNA 95), Co-Founder of Open Impact and author of The Giving Code and the Giving Journey and Jeanne Bell (MNA ’01) who served until recently as CEO at Compass Point and now at Nonprofit Quarterly and in our MNA Advisory Board. Jeanne is also a well-known author of Nonprofit Sustainability other publications for the promotion of social impact with sustainable business practices among NPOs.

We are excited to engage in a panel conversation with Michael, Alexa and Jeanne on the past, present and future of nonprofits, its education and its capacity needs for effective leaders and organizations. Who can better represent our voice than one of our current MNA students, Sascha Rosemond (MNA ’19), who currently serves as Development and Donor Relations Assistant at the San Francisco Foundation.

Please join me to welcome Sasha, with Jeanne, Alexa and Michael to these conversations.

 

Nonprofit Career at your Doorsteps

The University of San Francisco (USF) School of Management, in cooperation with student volunteers, administrative and faculty members, have compiled a career resource guide for current students, alumni, and prospective students of the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) program.  Resources have been provided through various sources including field research of philanthropic career opportunities, community outreach, faculty and student advisement, the 2017 GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report, and the 2017 University of San Francisco School of Management Graduate Career Services Career Resource Guide, which has been edited to fit the needs of students in the nonprofit program.  These resources are designed to provide students with internship, fellowship, and volunteer opportunities, networking events, compensation reports, interview tips, resume templates, and tools for job searching for those pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector.

This project is also meant to bridge any gaps that may exist between USF and alumni of the MNA program.  We would like to assist alumni in their own career paths or to engage alumni with current students to share their specialized advice from working in the field.  This guide (including the handbook and the compensation report) will be accessible to all currently enrolled students in the full time and part time program using the USF Canvas system within the MNA Depot, and it  will include all of the resources described above.  The handbook will also be posted to the USF MNA website and will be accessible to the public including alumni.  The compensation report has been purchased by the University of San Francisco School of Management from GuideStar.org and is for internal usage only due to restrictions placed upon the distribution of the report by GuideStar.  Thus, this piece of the guide can only be accessed by currently enrolled students or those alumni who wish to physically visit USF to view the resource in person.  This resource cannot be shared electronically by email.

Events will be announced to current students through the MNA Depot and to alumni and current students who are members of the MNA LinkedIn group page which can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/6752583.  These events will include those hosted by USF and events hosted by outside organizations (typically occurring within the San Francisco Bay Area) for networking and volunteer opportunities.

The School of Management and the MNA Program at USF are excited to assist the growing needs of current students and alumni in their career development and professional endeavors in the philanthropic job market.

Download here the 2018 MNA Career Resource Guide and see resourceful links for successful nonprofit careers.

 

 

Don’t Kill the Golden Goose: Rethinking Accountability Standards in the Nonprofit Sector

Disclaimer​: ​​This ​​is ​​not ​​a ​​goose. ​​This ​​is ​​a ​​golden​​ Mandarin ​​Duck;​​ this​​ photo ​​is​​ meant ​​to ​​be ​​visual​​aid ​​only and ​​not​​ a ​​true ​​representation ​​of ​​a​​ Golden​​ Goose.

Golden​​·Goose

Noun

  1. The ​​golden​​ goose​​ of​​ TSOs, ​​in​​ many ​​situations, ​​comes ​​to ​​be ​​seen​​ as​​ the​​ state’s​​ only ​​or​​best​​ hope in ​​tackling ​​‘wicked ​​problems’ ​​such ​​as ​​reducing ​​health ​​inequalities ​​(​Tenbensel,​​,​​ Dwyer,​​J., ​​& Lavoie,​​J.,​​2014).

Large-scale ​​migration ​​into ​​the ​​Britain ​​in ​​the​​ 1960s ​​and ​​70s ​​prompted ​​the ​​development ​​of ​​third-sector organizations ​​to ​​tackle ​​unmet ​​needs​​ of ​​the ​​new ​​populations ​​and ​​communities. ​​Government ​​funders turned ​​to ​​third-sector ​​organizations ​​(TSOs)​​ to ​​provide ​​cheap ​​and​​ effective ​​services ​​to ​​fill​​ gaps.

With ​​government ​​funders ​​providing ​​the​​ capital ​​​for ​​TSO ​​work, ​​ another ​​issue​​ came ​​to ​​the ​​forefront. “Accountability ​​measures ​​imposed ​​by ​​governments​​ can ​​be ​​debilitating​​ or ​​ ‘killing ​​of​​the​​ golden ​​goose” (Tenbensel​​et​​al. ​​,​​2014). ​​While ​​trying ​​to​​ expand​​ services​​ TSOs ​​are ​​burdened​​ by​​stringent​​ accountability measures. ​​A​​ conflict ​​arises ​​between ​​government ​​funder’s​​ needs ​​for​​transparency​​ and ​​accountability ​​and being ​​mindful ​​that​​ accountability ​​measures​​ can ​​stifle ​​a ​​TSOs ​​impact.

Tenbensel​​et​​al. ​​ (2014) ​​ describes ​​the ​​different “pulls” ​​that​​ TSOs ​​encounter.

Downward ​​Pull-​​community ​​ (members, ​​clients, ​​community​​leaders, ​​and​​ other ​​organizations).

Lateral ​​Pull-​​ one ​​another​​ and ​​themselves​​ (staff, ​​volunteers, ​​community​​ board​​ members, ​​and​​community agencies). ​with​​ whom​​ they​​ work’​

Upward-​funders. ​

Tenbensel​​ et ​​al. ​​(2014)​​ developed ​​a​​ comprehensive ​​framework ​​to ​​address ​​overburdened ​​TSOs.

  1. Do​​no​​harm​​-​​ do​​not​​in advertently ​​increase ​​overall​​ accountability ​​measures ​​for ​​TSOs.
  2. ‘Best ​​fit’​ generation​​-​​public ​​managers ​​should​​ play ​​an ​​active ​​role ​​in ​​facilitating ​​environments ​​in which​​ TSO ​​accountability ​​requirements ​​between ​​the ​​points​​ of ​​the ​​triskele ​​are​​ better ​​aligned.
  3. Consideration ​​of ​​collateral ​​impact​​ of ​​accountability ​​measures.
  4. Use ​​triskele​​ as ​​a ​​foundation​​ for ​​conversation ​​between ​​TSOs ​​and ​​all​​ stakeholders​​about accountability.
  5. Triskele ​​framework ​​can ​​be ​​used ​​to​​ assess ​​new ​​or ​​prospective ​​developments ​​that ​​are​​ likely ​​to impact ​​the​​ organization’s ​​accountability ​​environment.

The​​ Triskele ​​framework ​​and  ​​knowledge ​​of ​​how ​​accountability ​​measures ​​can ​​impact ​​TSOs ​​is ​​beneficial ​​for nonprofit ​​scholars ​​to ​​have ​​awareness ​​and ​​become ​​advocates ​​for ​​organizations ​​we ​​work ​​with ​​now​​ and ​​in the​​ future.

Social Movements: Seeing Change Through to Fruition with Strategy and Partnerships

By Claire Lewis

Earlier this year, I participated in my first protest ever – The Women’s March. I cannot remember who organized it or who invited me to the Facebook event group; I just knew I wanted to make a difference. If raising awareness was the key objective, then we definitely accomplished that goal. According to USA Today, 2.6 individuals across 32 countries participated in this historical march. Celebrities from America Ferrerra to Madonna gave powerful speeches about the importance of women’s rights. News stations across the globe covered this momentous day.

How was such a feat accomplished? The answer is social media. Facebook protest events across various cities and states filled my newsfeed leading up to the day. I witnessed many friends mark they were “interested” or “going” to these events.

However, despite this outpouring of support, there is little to no reform. One of the issues with “social media” marches is the lack of strategy behind the effort. I, like many others, was unclear as to the main purpose or end-goal of the Women’s March. Was it a particular policy change? If so, was it related to sexual harassment, gender inequality in pay, freedom of choice, and/or all of the above?

In order to sustain long-term change in policy and legislation, strategy, goals, and hard work need to be put forth and adhered to. This Ted Talk goes into more detail on the lack of strategy behind online uprisings. As, Zeynep points out, the Civil Rights movement was incredibly successful because there was a well thought out strategy, what she refers to as “slow and sustained” and “painstaking long-term work.” The Civil Rights movement also had specific, tangible goals such as ending segregation and reversing “separate but equal.” Both individuals (ex. MLK) as well as the work of SMO’s led to major change. For example, the NAACP was instrumental in policy change. NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall, challenged segregation in the landmark case, Plessy V. Ferguson that later led to Brown v. Board of Education. The Brown Case resulted in large-scale protests such as the March on Washington.

These powerful protests are the reason for both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Clearly, both SMOs and individuals are important in a social movement. So the question is, in our current social media climate, how can we harness the power of these social media inspired protests and actually produce tangible results? To me, this is more important than whether an SMO or an individual creates a protest event on Facebook. I do not care who starts it, I just want to contribute and see change actually happen.

The first step is creation of a strategy. Many SMOs already have strategy and goals built into their programming. For example, the NAACP has various toolkits for social change initiatives. The trick is to connect SMOs to these grassroots movements so that everyone is on the same page.

Below are some ideas I brainstormed that could create movements that are more effective. I assume (and hope) that at least some of these ideas are already in place.

  • SMOs identifying and working with various grassroots protest planners to create strategies and goals together that can be communicated to the masses
  • SMOs training leaders to be part of these small grassroots movements and educate groups
  • SMOs attending various protests as guest speakers and/or handing out information
  • SMOs collaborating with influential social change leaders such as Michael Moore to ensure a goal is put in place and communicated. He does a great job, but a partnership with an SMO could be even more impactful
  • SMOs and/or individuals harnessing various media sources to make it clear what the public needs to do in order to achieve the goal (make it easy to do, easy to understand)
  • SMOs educating the public at various venues on what legislation is related to the current issue, what propositions to watch out for, etc.
  • SMOs partnering with small grassroots groups to create follow-up sessions after protests
  • SMOs and/or individuals partnering with schools and universities to provide education on various social issues and legislation to build a pipeline

Our current social media climate has so much potential for enacting real, tangible change. By harnessing the strategies that SMOs already construct and articulating clear goals, we have a chance at influencing policy change. SMOs and individuals can be much more powerful as a team, and I hope there will be more partnerships in the future. I am so proud of the Women’s March and awareness it spread, but I want to see women receive equal pay, a right to choose, and fair trials in the cases of rape and sexual assault. I want to see not just a short-term uprising, but long-term change. The partnership of SMOs and individuals can act as a catalyst to bring reform to fruition.

Using Neutrality to Protect Humanity

By Hayley Walker and Valdeir Faria Filho

Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are functioning in our global society, some better than others. Some are well-known (CARE, Amnesty International, Red Cross) and use effective marketing techniques, lobbying efforts, and provide programs internationally. Others are small, local organizations that work to make life better for specific groups of people. Regardless, these diverse and varying NGOs have multiple commonalities, though they may not be fully visible on the surface. All, however, embark on missions to protect humanity.

The World Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (WANGO) is an international organization that aims to unite NGOs and promote peace and wellbeing across the globe. WANGO offers resources and support to create connections among organizations striving to create a more just, sustainable world for all. As a proponent of networks and collaborations, WANGO sheds light on the synergy that results from global organizations working towards a common goal. With widespread government support, exceptional visionaries, and dedicated donors, WANGO has worked for the past 17 years to encourage NGOs to connect across borders and without boundaries, and to hold steadfast to the following guiding principles (WANGO Code of Ethics):

  • Responsibility, service, and public mindedness
  • Cooperation beyond boundaries
  • Human rights and dignity
  • Religious freedom
  • Transparency and accountability
  • Truthfulness and legality

NGOs, in the broadest sense, cannot be for profit organizations, must be independent of government, must not interfere in domestic state affairs, and must not advocate violence (Kaloudis, 2017). However, there comes a time when disaster relief and humanitarian organizations must interfere—or rather, intervene—in domestic affairs in an effort to protect humanity. Non-governmental organizations are frequently caught in the cross-fire of waring territories, failed states, and desperate civilians, with one goal in mind: to provide relief for those in need.

During times of crisis, NGOs rely deeply on their neutrality to aid them in reaching the most people possible. In accordance with WANGO’s principle of working towards cooperation beyond boundaries, neutrality refers to refraining from taking sides on issues regarding political, cultural, religious affiliation, or other sensitive issues that may result in conflict. That does not mean that NGOs disappear or go into hiding during such conflicts, but rather work harder to serve all affected—regardless of their stance on the issues. Impactful NGOs uphold the policy of not “taking sides,” and this is crucial to the safety of workers, volunteers, donors, and civilians. However, in recent years NGOs have faced difficulty in mitigating suffering as impartial entities, in part due to assumed association with national governments or international organizations (Brechenmacher, 2015).  Aid and relief of organizations urge conflicting parties to respect their neutral stance as they provide desperately needed services to civilians, but reality does not always allow provide for this ideal situation. State militaries may claim alliances with NGOs, and rebel forces may see this alliance as a threat to their progress. NGOs, however, frequently default to the emphasizing the value of impartiality in conflict zones and assert their neutral stance to relieve human suffering—a practice that is often debated. In order to reach civilians who may be trapped or displaced deep within war zones and conflict arenas, NGOs must carefully negotiate with opposing parties. They must ensure they remain under enough security to serve, but enough neutrality to relieve the suffering civilians from all sides.

Leading from the Ground Up: Establishing Ethics and Social Responsibility in USF’s Nonprofit Student Council

By: Brandon Jones, Greg Justice, and Elizabeth Silva,

2017-18 Full-Time Cohort 

The study of ethics – historically known as “Moral Philosophy” – traces its roots to the time of early Greece, having been discussed significantly by Socrates and Plato (01), and mainly, in the pursuit of “justice.”  (No relation.)

Fast forward over two millennia – give or take a few hundred years, and we find ourselves studying ethics in a new capacity.  That is, how do we build an ethical and socially responsible student government from the ground up, paying tribute today’s standards, yet leaving an ethical structure for future cohorts?

The University of San Francisco’s Master of Nonprofit Administration (“MNA”) has within the program a fully autonomous student government – the Nonprofit Student Council (“NSC”).  NSC serves the needs, ideas, and professional development of the MNA student body.  In our official affairs, governing documents, and the spirit of our governance, NSC is building an ethical foundation, providing a respectful and dignified environment for current and future students.

NSC’s Core Values

From the very beginning of NSC’s deliberations, the executive board – the collective six officers pictured right –  has stressed the need for engagement, collaboration, and representation; access and inclusion; oversight and accountability; and, most importantly, diversity, as our guiding principles.  As the governing council for MNA students, we benefit greatly with these values, making sure we do our best to represent every student in a thoughtful and equitable manner.

NSC’s Mission Statement

Our guiding principles are best embodied in the NSC mission statement, memorializing our official commitment to these values.  The purpose of NSC is to, “provide a unified voice for students with a focus on promoting and improving the MNA program at The University of San Francisco. The NSC provides a vehicle for student perspectives, ideas, and a means of promoting events on behalf of the student body. The NSC club will promote co-curricular activities pertinent to the nonprofit field as well as support and encourage collaboration with other nonprofit professionals…”  Again, embedded in NSC’s mission statement is collaboration, representation, and inclusion, all being values allowing for ‘better’ and inclusive governance.

Code of Ethics

NSC has recently initiated the process for designing a Conflict-of-Interest policy, catered to our specific affairs and operations, and will be considering this at the next officer’s meeting.  Besides implementing this best practice, the executive board values an orderly governance system, equally available and protective of all parties.  Despite having a Treasurer and Vice-President for Communications, all financial records and official communications are shared with officers, program and university officials, and most importantly, MNA students. (We have even established a program-wide email listserv, guaranteeing all MNA students – part- and full-time – are well-informed, and have a timely accounting of their officer’s.)

Ethics Officer

Unlike other student governments and organizations, NSC has taken the step to permanently secure the implementation of oversight, access, accountability, and other related practices, with a new officer position.  Appointed just last week, Greg Finkelstein serves as the Director of Standards and Practices, ensuring organizational compliance with governing and ethical protocol.  Finkelstein also chairs the newly formed Standards and Practices Committee, bringing in independent and impartial students overseeing NSC’s compliance.

Structure

When considering any program, service, or obligation, NSC creates an “Officer’s Report,” providing assessments for risk, finance, governance, and overall compliance.  These reports provide an extra layer of administrative and ethical analysis, making sure our values and guiding principles are effectively considered in all matters before the executive board.

The board also recently adopted a 72-hour deadline for introducing and disseminating all agenda items and reports, guaranteeing equal access and consideration to all parties and stakeholders in official affairs.  Further, although our meetings regularly take place physically on our campus, all meetings are also broadcast via Zoom – a webinar platform, allowing all who desire to participate to do so.

Conclusion

Further ethical drivers – such as, risk assessment and governance analyses, leadership and ethics trainings, as well as, organizational socialization – will be the path NSC takes in our ongoing ethics quest.   Despite implementing these best practices and guiding principles, NSC cannot rest on any laurels, as we recognize maintaining an ethical and socially responsible organization requires continuous development, organizational reflection, and ongoing assessment and refinement of the overall governing structure.  

For more information about NSC, please contact NSC@usfca.edu, or visit our website at www.usfnsc.org, or Twitter @usfnsc.

Silva serves as Secretary, Justice as President, and Jones is a contributor to NSC’s development.

Nonprofit Student Council Appoints New Officer Positions

 

New Council Officers will help maintain institutional knowledge, better represent part-time students, and provide greater oversight and inclusion for all NSC affairs.

SAN FRANCISCO – With its mission to, “provide a unified voice for students with a focus on promoting and improving the MNA program at the University of San Francisco,” the Nonprofit Student Council (NSC) has appointed three new officer positions, better serving the Nonprofit Administration (MNA) student body, and advancing NSC’s mission.

  • Preserving NSC’s institutional knowledge, and harnessing prior leadership experiences, Bea Duncan has been appointed as Immediate Past-President – having served as President in 2016-17, now providing insight and best practices to NSC.
  • Increasing the Council’s directive for greater part-time student engagement and representation,

Katriellle Risa Veslenio (right)  has been appointed Part-Time Ambassador.

  • Lastly, providing greater oversight, increased access, and overall compliance with program and university protocol, Greg Finkelstein (below) has been appointed as Director of Standards and Practices, also chairing the same named committee.

“I am excited by these positions and our new officers, as they memorialize our significant efforts to increase engagement and representation, making sure all MNA students have access to having their voice heard,” stated NSC 17-18 President, Greg Justice.

Moving forward, the Council also hopes to appoint Part-Time class representatives.

For general NSC information, please feel free to contact NSC@usfca.edu, or contact Lense Eshete – leshete@dons.usfca.edu– for release-related inquiries.

Founded in August 2015, the Nonprofit Student Council is the official student association for the Master of Nonprofit Administration (MNA) program, providing a unified voice for MNA students, engagement in professional activities and opportunities, and practicing the transformational leadership needed to enhance the missions of University of San Francisco, USF’s School of Management, and the overall MNA program.  Follow NSC on Twitter @usfnsc, or visit us online at: www.usfnsc.org.

Servant Leadership In Nonprofit Culture

A flipped pyramid showing the structure of servant leadership (Haaff, 2015)

By: Greg Finkelstein, Kia Harris, and Jenny Shen, MNA ’18

In nonprofit entities, leadership is the cornerstone of success. Without good leadership, regardless of how impressive the individual components may be, productivity is far from maximized, and employees themselves may become marginalized. There are a plethora of leadership techniques which can be enacted at many levels, but their effectiveness varies depending on the environment in which they are employed. However, given the nature of nonprofits, servant leadership is the universal perfect match.

Servant leadership is a concept that many leaders will never be able to follow. They may feel that being a servant leader means that power is being yielded from them to other employees. This has nothing to do with servant leadership. A good leader can lead from the front, from behind, or from the side. Beyond that, a good servant leader is still clearly in charge. This concept does not mean that final authority shifts away from management and into the hands of the other employees.

To become a servant leader, one must have the mentality that their role is to support and address the needs of those who work under them (Johnson, 2017). Thinking from the employee’s perspective, checking in with them, and being receptive to feedback all give servant leaders insight on how to better facilitate the work being done. There are constantly new models or seminars on how to be a better leader, but what will always make sense is directly asking those who are being led how they want their situations improved.

The concept of servant leadership fits nonprofits perfectly because of both their virtues and shortcomings. Nonprofits usually have employees who truly want to be there and work towards the cause. Often, these employees are initially attracted to the organization because they align with the mission statement and the values emphasized. In this light, engaging in servant leadership is a very logical approach. Truly supporting those who have a high level of motivation to accomplish the organization’s mission and affinity for the cause at hand makes the most sense. If employees already want to work hard and efficiently, pushing and prodding them doesn’t help, but will instead wear people down over time. Supporting them, addressing their specific needs, and making the work environment as easy to maneuver as possible are the best ways to increase productivity when motivation is already high.

In addition to virtues, the shortcomings of nonprofits are another great reason to engage in servant leadership. Nonprofits may address a wide range of social issues, but they share many common challenges: being low on funds, having too few staff, and not having enough resources. Even large, multi-million dollar nonprofits have a limited ability to pay market rate wages. New nonprofits face these challenges and more, as their novelty and presumably small size makes them greatly vulnerable (Bielefeld, 2014). This gives the impression that nonprofits are at a disadvantage. Indeed, being at a disadvantage is far from anything new to nonprofits, but, rather, closer to the norm. Interestingly, there are significant drawbacks to relying on monetary reward as an incentive, as many for-profits do. Most importantly, it breeds fickle employees. Just like there is always a bigger fish, someone elsewhere will always be able to offer a bigger paycheck.

Clearly, nonprofits must rely on something more substantial than monetary reward. If an employee must accept that their work will not garner as many financial gains as compared to a similar position in the for-profit world, the last thing they want is to be led around by a totalitarian who doesn’t seem to respect their input and views them as replaceable commodities. Indeed, that would not be an easy environment to be in regardless of the sector. Additionally, nonprofit workers may be asked to go above and beyond their duties with no increase in tangible incentives. When this happens, knowing there is a leader who will do their best to address their employees’ needs is a great source of security and makes accepting the new obligations less daunting. The vanguard to overcoming these challenges can only be leadership, and servant leadership addresses these issues particularly well.

Servant leadership does not need to be the only management mechanism employed. Other models, ideas, and practices can blend well with servant leadership. For example, the 7 virtues of effective leaders, courage, integrity, humility, reverence, optimism, compassion, and justice, all fit perfectly under the frame of servant leadership (Johnson, 2017). If a leader views putting the needs of her or his staff as primary importance, they are then free to continue instilling motivation in a variety of ways. It is clear that embracing the unique traits and challenges of nonprofits is crucial to implementing good leadership. Servant leadership highlights these features, while empowering individuals to contribute as much as they can to something they believe in. It is no surprise, then, that this technique is rising in popularity.

– Educating Social Sector Leaders Since 1983 –

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