At one level, the answer is Management 101. Leadership needs to pay attention to its economic model and cost structure.
At another level, it’s a systemic problem. The sheer number of nonprofits – many quite small – breeds inefficiencies. Overhead is duplicated, and services overlap.
In a previous blog about nonprofit competition, we made a plug for more collaboration. Focus on what you are really good at, we suggested, and partner with others who are better at doing the rest. That suggestion is difficult for many nonprofits to swallow, but the even more radical solution is consolidation. How many after school programs does a city really need?
The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits is an example of an increasing recognition of the need for strategic collaborations. Itself a partnership of several organizations, the fund was established to support nonprofit collaborations and mergers in the Boston area through technical assistance. You can read more about it here.