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  • 1. The Kern County Network for Children Overcoming the Obstacles of the Nonprofit Sector Through Regionally Comprehensive Collaboration Katherine Valenzuela Community Development Graduate Group University of California, Davis
  • 2. Presentation Outline • History and Purpose. • The Welfare State and Nonprofits. • Organizational Theory and Collaboration. • Capacity and Competition. • Model of the KCNC’s Collaboratives. • Lessons from the KCNC. • Discussion.
  • 3. • History. ▫ Worst statistics in state, despite award- winning organizational efforts. ▫ Recognition of regionally-based lives and needs of children and families. ▫ KCNC established through collaborative discussions among county organizations. ▫ Transition from reactive to proactive. • Purpose: to improve the welfare of children and families in Kern County ▫ Maintains collaboratives throughout region.  Act as advocate and leadership coach. ▫ Provide regional perspective and data.
  • 4. The Welfare State and Nonprofits • Despite popular belief, the nature of capitalism creates the need for welfare. ▫ Bauman, Zygmunt. Wasted Lives: Modernity and its Outcasts.  “Progress is advertised to bring more happiness to more people, but fewer people are needed to aide in acceleration.”  While less state intervention was needed for capitalism to grow, now more state is needed to hide those who are suffering from capitalism’s success. ▫ Lindert, Peter H. Growing Public: Social Spending and Economic Growth Since the Eighteenth Century.  False belief that an increase in welfare would decrease worker productivity.  ‘Robin Hood paradox,’ in which redistribution from rich to poor is least present when and where it seems most needed.
  • 5. The Welfare State and Nonprofits • As capitalism evolves, disparities only continue to grow, making it harder for people to envision solutions. ▫ Sennett, Richard. Respect in a World of Inequality.  The respect needed to overcome these barriers to efficiency requires Adam Smith’s “error of mutual identification,” meaning that one must be able to identify with someone in order to truly respect them and their lives. With an economic system that is built upon inequalities, though, the differences between the strong and the weak are becoming ever-more pronounced, making such respect even less feasible than it has been in the past.
  • 6. The Welfare State and Nonprofits • Government resists drastically changing policy due to the potential threat to political power. ▫ Skocpol, Theda. Social Policy in the United States: Future Possibilities in Historical Perspective.  Polity-centered approach: stipulates that officials and politicians wish to uphold the institutions and organizations within which they’re embedded, explaining the constant reluctance of government to refuse to increase social spending despite popular demand.
  • 7. The Welfare State and Nonprofits • Nonprofits thus evolved to address the social needs government did not. ▫ Madeline Landau, “Hyperinnovation in Complex Policy Systems: Race, Poverty & the Cities.”  Social services came about without conscious effort at achieving efficiency (ie: effective administrative structure), which stems directly from the government’s desire to reduce its role in social service provision without necessarily ensuring that another entity can adequately fill the roll.  The fact that the inequalities many nonprofits seek to fight still persist in our society is the most prominent indicator of the structural flaws. ▫ Steinburg, Richard. “Economic Theories of Nonprofit Organizations.”  Cites the “Three Failures Theory,” which stipulates that nonprofits evolved due to: the market’s failure to provide needed goods and services, the government’s failure to structurally address social needs, and the failure of volunteers to overcome their inexperience, particularism and attitudes of paternalism that have influenced the nonprofit sector to date.
  • 8. Organizational Theory and Collaboration • Organizations resist change, and tend to persist even if suboptimal. ▫ Hannan, Michael T. and John Freeman. “The Population Ecology of Organizations.”  Managers are more likely to attempt to replicate successful organizations by changing their organization to be similar to the them instead of researching ways to become more efficient and effective on their own.  Change throws that survival into question, and is thus why many organizations resist it. ▫ DiMaggio, Paul J. and Walter W. Powell. “Introduction” and “The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields.”  Organizations come into existence when their benefits are greater than their transaction costs, but once organizations are established they tend to persist even if suboptimal.
  • 9. Organizational Theory and Collaboration • Nonprofits are in a unique and difficult organizational situation. ▫ Frumkin, Peter. On Being Nonprofit: A Conceptual and Policy Primer  Stuck between the governmental and for-profit world, the core features of nonprofits both overlap and contradict the goals of those other sectors.  “The nonprofit and voluntary sector is at once a visible and compelling force in society and an elusive mass of contradictions.”  Features of this sector: organizations do not coerce participation, they operate without distributing profits to stakeholders, and they do not have simple and clear lines of ownership and accountability.
  • 10. Organizational Theory and Collaboration • Research done on collaboration to-date points to specific factors in their success or failure. ▫ Mattessich, Paul W., Marta Murray-Close and Barbara R. Monsey. Collaboration: What Makes it Work.  These findings imply that collaboration needs a strong structure that encompasses the goals of their organizations adequately, something that organizations typically lack in their individual operations.  Among the twenty success factors identified, sufficient funds, skilled leadership, shared vision, clear roles and policy guidelines, and multiple layers of participation were those most ubiquitous across all studies surveyed.
  • 11. Capacity and Competition • Incredible competition exists among nonprofits for limited funding and resources. ▫ Boris, Elizabeth T. and C. Eugene Steuerle. “Scope and Dimensions of the Nonprofit Sector.”  In 2006, there are currently over 1.3 million nonprofit organizations, yielding over two trillion dollars in assets.  Considering this includes entities such as hospitals and other high-budget organizations, most of the organizations in this study operate on budgets of less than $100,000 per year.
  • 12. Capacity and Competition • Sans an administrative body, nonprofits are thus limited in their sustainability or effectiveness. ▫ Frumkin, Peter and Mark T. Kim. “Strategic Positioning and the Financing of Nonprofit Organizations: Is Efficiency Rewarded in the Contributions Marketplace?”  With no administrative body to prevent duplicity or comprehensiveness of services, this overpopulated sector has to fight for limited funding opportunities, making it harder for any of them to achieve financial stability.  This situation leads nonprofit managers to simply try to stay afloat instead of focusing their energies on adequate service provision, a situation that could be mitigated by a stronger administrative backbone for the nonprofit sector as a whole.
  • 13. Capacity and Competition • Typical collaboration changes landscape, affecting organizational capacity. ▫ Advantages: larger scale, increased power, reduced influence of politics, more effective action, favored by funding agencies. ▫ Disadvantages: high transaction costs, need for administration to ensure sustainability, lack of comprehension leaves room for duplicity and contrary efforts.
  • 14. Model of the KCNC’s Collaboratives Local Collaboratives Community Leadership Coordinators Development General Collaborative Administrative Technical Advisory Team (ATAC) Governing Executive Board Committee
  • 15. Lessons from the KCNC • Welfare and organizational theory illustrate need for new form of nonprofit administration. ▫ “If these county organizations did the right thing all the time, they wouldn’t need us.” (Jamie Stewart, 13 April 2009) • Need for unbiased, administrative entity to absorb transaction costs, combat politics and maintain sustainability of group. • Ultimate advantage of collaboration gained from the version achieved through regional comprehensiveness. • Generational change through leadership training creating “culture of collaboration.” (Tom Corson, 13 April 2009)
  • 16. Discussion Questions (EDIT!!) • Do you agree that the organization of our welfare state necessitates the existence of small nonprofits? • What do you feel has prevented the development of an administrative structure for the nonprofit sector? • Is it essential that such collaboratives are organized by interest/focus? ▫ For example, the KCNC involves only organizations concerned with the welfare of children and their families. • Do you feel that the model of the KCNC’s collaboratives is applicable to other regions?
  • 17. Thanks for your time! Contact information: kbvalenzuela@ucdavis.edu