From his perch as a senior researcher at GuideStar, Chuck McLean can easily track the numbers of nonprofits registered, the general fields they are in, and how old they are when they die. But, he cautions, this is still not a very accurate view of the demographics of the sector; there is much that remains out of sight.
The Nascent Nonprofit Organization - What Happens Before a Nonprofit is Born? by Frederik O. Andersson (Winter 2014)
While the earliest phases of nonprofit life remain an essential area of study, the nascent stage of nonprofits is a valuable window into organizational development.
A nonprofit’s infancy is a time of exploration and testing, and missteps are, as the author writes, “par for the course— although as any parent of a young child can attest, some falls can be painful.”
Nonprofit news sites are a young field going through the usual growing pains of newly founded entities. In this case, however, the field has the Knight Foundation and the Investigative News Network providing support and guidelines toward sustainability.
The five case studies outlined in this article describe nonprofits that succumbed to external violence or internal mismanagement, committed suicide, plan to commit suicide, faced death but refused to “go gentle into that good night,” or expired but subsequently rose from the dead—all evidence that organizations never simply “die.”
There are myriad ways to harm your organization, and this article lays out ten of the best. But if none fits your bill, don’t despair. For, as the authors assure us, “People come up with new and creative ways all the time to capsize, starve, overwhelm, alienate, asphyxiate, delegitimize, underinvest in, and otherwise off their nonprofits.”