Not-for-profit organizations can face many of the conflicts that for-profit businesses do, as well as unique challenges that can arise from their structure, purpose, difficulties in measuring outcomes, and funding restrictions. Mediation, facilitation, and consulting assistance can help meet these challenges.
Any organization, whether it sells products or services, or serves an important community need, consists of people developing goals, making plans to achieve them, and taking steps to implement those plans. Conflicts can arise in each of those steps – at the initial stages of the organization or as it grows and evolves.
A not-for-profit organization’s initial purpose and goals may no longer fit with changing conditions in the community it serves, yet those involved since the founding may find it difficult to accept necessary changes. Not-for-profits may struggle to demonstrate their successes because they cannot rely on profits as measurement tool.
Funding sources – whether private donors, foundations, or government agencies – may impose standards and requirements on the organization.
Not-for-profits have additional challenges because they may work with volunteers as Board directors, committee members, and essential helping hands.
Some involved in a not-for-profit may be inexperienced with or reluctant to embrace efficiencies and processes that would be expected in private sector and could be helpful in the not-for-profit sector.
Community foundations (especially donor directed funds) and family foundations add another dimension: potential conflicts when a younger generation does not understand or fully share the motivation and intent of the parents who made significant donations. The next generation may feel resentment, which may be spoken or unspoken, about gifting decisions made but not known until the death of the donor.
Mediation and facilitation can help those within the organization find common ground and work together to achieve their shared fundamental goals. Not-for-profit organizations may also benefit from mediation, facilitation, or consulting assistance in their relationships with each other, potential donors, and others whose actions can affect their ability to succeed.