Mission Driven Management: The Role of the Nonprofit Manager in the 21st Century


One goal of this blog is to engage people in topics related to our work in the nonprofit sector that we don’t often have the time (or energy) to explore; and to share your thoughts, questions and comments. Hopefully we can make some positive connections and learn from each other’s experiences and ideas!

This inaugural blog will introduce Third Sector Solutions’ concept of Transformational Management.

The concept of transformative management is outgrowth of my belief in the role of the organizations of the Nonprofit Sector to be agents of change for the communities they serve; and that management staff are key contributors to the success of their organization’s vision and mission.


To begin exploring this topic I’m including excerpts from my manuscript (working title: Mission Driven Management: The Role of the Nonprofit Manager in the 21st Century – Transformational Management in Action)

“A bit of related history: The social change movements of the 1960’s  (civil rights, anti- War, the Women’s movement, the LBGT community, and the Farmworkers, to name a few) had a tremendous influence on the re-imagining of the nonprofit sector, which changed significantly with important financial support and organizational development assistance by the Johnson Administration’s Great Society initiatives. A prime example of this is the Community Action Programs/CAP, founded by the 1964 Economic Opportunity Act to fight poverty by empowering the poor as part of the War on Poverty.

Many of the nonprofit organizations that were created during this time of mass movements advocating social change continued the work of these social action movements at the local community level.

Nonprofit agencies’ social change missions have evolved to provide a wide range of services to a broad spectrum of people and have become significant contributors to the economy of their communities


Managers as agents of change.

Managers play a key role in supporting the agency’s mission and the organizational culture of the teams they supervise. Third Sector Solutions version of transformational management activities recognizes that ‘manager as agent of change’ can take many forms.

These include, but are not limited to: focusing on individual efforts to engage in social action, working with the teams they supervise to support staff initiatives in these areas, working with their organization to promote an activist role in addressing the quality of life issues that are part of the agency’s mission and engaging the broader community (through collaborations) to support social action activities.

Another reason for including this ‘manager as agent of social change’ focus is the recognition that a desire to have a positive impact on their communities and be part of an organization that has a social change mission is one of the reasons people work in the nonprofit sector.

The reality is the daily work of managers often becomes all encompassing, and the capacity of managers to also stay connected to their vision is muted. The tasks of supervising staff and program operations, budgeting, reporting, administering grants and contracts is labor intensive, and may leave little time and energy  for staff to support their ‘vision’ of what it is to be a manager who believes in being an agent of change”.


So the question is: How to attend to all these tasks and stay connection to your vision?

This blog is designed to begin a conversation and encourage people to share their challenges and how they found opportunities in their work to maintain their social change vision.

Each person will have their own strategy for accomplishing this. One approach I took was to identify what my vision of management included, and the recognition that I needed to understand my management philosophy.

Management Philosophy. This blog defines a management philosophy as a set of beliefs that will continue to evolve throughout your management career. It will create a foundation for your ‘best practices’ and can guide your development of your management skills.

Vision – one component of management philosophy.  In the context of developing your management philosophy, vision includes the manager’s ‘Big Picture’ perspective of their role in the organization. Creating this type of vision can provide you with a road map to achieve your personal/professional goals.

Developing your vision of management will provide you with an opportunity to explore how your core values (personal and professional) can align with and support your work. Your core values can provide you with some clarity on what to do in a situation when you may be conflicted about what action to take or decision to make.

It has been my experience that a developing a management philosophy is a work in progress, and it will evolve over time. New situations will emerge that will challenge some of the theories we have utilized to guide us. We need to be flexible and adapt to these new circumstances.

Best Practices. It is the establishment of professional standards of excellence, It is aligned with your values and vision and it continues to evolve as circumstances change.


Any comments, questions or different approaches to maintaining your change agent mission are welcomed.











Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s