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Converting Non-profit Agencies into Financially Viable Institutions Proposal

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Updated: Jan 22nd, 2020


Non-profit organisations depend on “Voluntary, public and corporate funding through donations and bequests to render their services” (Todnem, 2005, p. 377). Increase in the number of non-profit organisations has led to competition for financial support. On the other hand, the available monetary resources have continued diminishing.

Furthermore, the monetary funds are neither adequate nor conventional. Non-profit institutions, thus, have to revolutionise and develop resourceful strategies of income creation. Even though the non-profit corporations are expected to spend all their financial resources in public services, they are not prohibited from converting to financially viable institutions.

However, that calls for management and organisational values, which are conventionally perceived as belonging to the for-profit institutions. This proposal will discuss measures that can be taken to convert non-profit agencies into financially viable institutions.

Mayrhofer (2004) recommends use of a grand conjecture to institute practical decisions, which are founded on realistic theories that constitute vital characteristics associated with all sensible issues that organisational leaders tend to tackle. This proposal will utilise the Biomatrix theory to establish a guideline for transforming non-profit organisations into financially viable institutions.

Objectives and Scope

The prime intention of this proposal is to determine how change management process can be utilised to fashion a fundamental revolution of the non-profit organisations to turn them into sustainable institutions. A fundamental revolution refers to transformation in organisational cultures.

It engages changing employees’ behaviour and way of thinking. The proposal aims at offering insights from an external point of view and direction for triumphant transition for organisational management teams. The project will use the terms organisational transformation and organisational change interchangeably.

The paper will investigate realistic discourse between the present condition and an ideal blueprint for the future. Besides, the paper will not have a particular organisation in mind. Instead, it will come up with a change plan that can be utilised by all non-profit organisations.

Literature Review

Globalisation and advent of modern technologies have led to considerable changes in organisations and organisational theories. McMillan (2004, p. 1) alleges, “Traditional notions of institutions and how to manage them may have suited more stable times, but they do not offer effective solutions to corporations coping with fast-flowing uncertainties of the modern world”. This proposal will draw on McMillan’s research.

In his study, McMillan (2004) explains the reduction of scientific archetype and mechanistic global views that are symbolized by linear methods, conventional patterns and collectively applicable regulations. A big number of the non-profit organisations work with an attitude of the industrial epoch preventing them from accomplishing their goals in these tumultuous times.

MacMillan (2004) identifies novel ways of thinking and working that may empower non-profit organisations to deal with challenges emanating from globalisation and technological development. He draws an explicit comparison between traditional and modern perceptions of organisational transformation. Nevertheless, MacMillan does not clearly elaborate managers’ opinion on the different attitudes.

The study will also draw on Argyris (1993) research. Argyris (1993) describes the present contemporary linear methods. His study focuses on incremental top-down procedures where change is designed and discharged sequentially. Nevertheless, Argyris (1993) overlooks the fact that the world is dynamic.

The world cannot remain static waiting for an organisation to implement its changes. According to Senge (1990, p. 79), “Most authors though clearly demonstrate a novel worldview, which is conscious of a hastily changing world where small causes can have big effects and where different approaches are needed”. Dostal (2005) contends that organisations are coming up with mechanisms to help them transform and cope with changes in a progressive manner.

In his literature, Dostal (2005) shows how organisations have come up with employee training programs to equip workers with skills on how to implement changes in a holistic and universal way. Dostal (2005) recommends Biomatrix theory as the best approach for achieving an integrative and holistic organisational transformation.

Stake (1995) argues that organisations require novel skills in order to work efficiently in a specified circumstance. Stake’s research is empathic. It is progressively focused and responsive to occurrences. Hence, the proposal will depend on the study to elucidate some of the measures that non-profit organisations may espouse to help them cope with the dynamic world. Stake (1995) applies systemic reasoning in his research.

He argues “The logic of the problem is not the logic of the solution” (Stake, 1995, p. 17). As a result, he advocates the establishment of problem-solving techniques based on novel and contemporary logic. Organisational ethos plays a significant role during change discharge.

Dostal (2005) alleges, “The ethos is the core of an organisation….describes the organisation’s culture, values, the guiding principles and beliefs, and the underlying information according to which the system evolves” (p. 60). Gratton (2004) explains how ethos influences organisational change. In her literature, she insists on the importance of considering ethos during brand development.

Additionally, Gratton (2004) identifies the different forms of philosophies and how they might influence organisational transformation. Hence, the proposal will use Dostal and Gratton’s literature to formulate strategies for dealing with ethos during organisational transformation.

Pascale, Millemann and Gioja (2000) assert that the success of organisational change depends on seven systems aspects and their correlation. These aspects are ethos, cultures, aims, process, structure, governance and substance. Pascale et al. (2000) describe how management influences organisational change.

Even though Pascale et al. (2000) describe how an organisation can efficiently introduce changes, they do not elaborate how a corporation can attain stability after changes. Therefore, the proposal will attempt to close this gap by identifying practices that non-profit institutions can apply to achieve stability after implementing changes.

In addition, Pascale et al. (2000) identify operational and adaptive challenges as some of the problems that arise due to organisational transformation. They further highlight some approaches that organisations can exploit to deal with these problems. Consequently, their literature will be invaluable to this proposal. Non-profit agencies are bound to encounter adaptive and operational challenges after transformation.

They cannot respond to the challenges if they are not equipped with the necessary skills. The proposal will draw on Pascale et al. (2000) ideas to develop a response plan for non-profit organisations. Archer (2000) uses Lewin’s model to elaborate the success of organisational change. She asserts, “Change occurs when forces that support organisation’s stable behaviour are modified” (Archer, 2000, p. 18).

She identifies two groups of forces that contend with one another during organisational transformation. Her literature gives astute information on how organisations can deal with the two forces. Therefore, the proposal will rely on Archer’s research to identify forces that might conflict during change implementation in non-profit organisations.

Besides, it will adopt Archer’s solutions. The main challenge with Archer’s literature is that the answers she gives are theoretical. She does not give an account of cases where the solutions were proofed successful. Hence, rather than endorsing Archer’s solutions as the ultimate solution to change management, the proposal will use them jointly with solutions obtained from other literatures.

Lewin’s model gives an explicit approach to organisational transformation. Hence, this research will rely on Lewin’s model to identify measures that might help to transform non-profit organisations. Lewin gives three-stage processes, which are critical to organisational transformation. The research will draw on the three phases to establish how non-profit institutions can realise changes.

Lewin’s model is flexible. Consequently, it is easy to modify it compared to other transformation models. One of the drawbacks of Lewin’s model is that it is “Based on small scale samples, and more importantly, it is based on the assumption that organisations act under constant conditions that can be taken into consideration and planned for” (Todnem, 2005, p. 367).

Therefore, the project will come up with ways of using Lewin’s theory to solve problems involving large scale samples. Besides, it will try to figure out how Lewin’s theory can be modified to address unpredictable and rapid changes. Holbeche (2009) is a specialist in the organisational development field. In his literature, he outlines skills and knowledge that managers should have before they embark on change discharge.

He further describes some approaches that leaders can use during change management. Holbeche’s work will help the study to identify the factors that might inhibit changes in non-profit organisations. The main disadvantage of Holbeche’s work is that it advocates broad-natured action series, which might not help to solve exclusive institutional contexts.

Thus, the study will use Holbeche’s work to come up with a “contingency” or “situational” approach that can be applied in non-profit organisations. The approach will focus on situational variables that affect different non-profit institutions.


The proposal will use case study design to come up with information about how non-profit organisations can transform into financially viable institutions. Merriam (1998) claims, “Case study does not claim any particular method for data collection or data analysis” (p. 29). By drawing on a case study, researcher will be concerned of gathering novel information, evaluating them and gaining insights.

The proposal does not aim at experimenting any theory. Instead, it will investigate ten non-profit organisations to determine how they are transforming into financially viable institutions, and what should be done to help them achieve their objectives. The reason for selecting ten institutions is to warrant that the research gathers sufficient data within the available duration.

One advantage of case studies is that they emphasise particularisation and uniqueness rather than generalisation. Besides, case studies strive to understand the situation, but not to distinguish it from others. Therefore, the researcher will hoard different findings from various non-profit organisations and later compare the results to come up with a comprehensive report.

Cases studies are classified according to subject orientation (Merriam, 1998). The proposal will treat the study of non-profit organisations as an “Action research case study, utilising knowledge from the Biomatrix framework” (Merriam, 1998, p. 27).

To satisfactorily examine the situation and come up with viable solutions, researcher will require a broad and holistic knowledge of the environment of non-profit organisations, which make up the range of the study. According to Banister, Burman, Parker, Taylor and Tindall (1994), researchers’ “equality of status” refers those who participate in the study.

The equality of status insists that opinions of those involved in research should be treated as core to the research activity. In case of the non-profit organisations, the views of the participants will, therefore, be considered core to this study. The study assumes that all participants will respond to research questions to the best of their understanding and experience.

Data Collection

Action research is a multi-method research (Benister et al., 1994). Therefore, this proposal will use different modes of data collection based on the required information. In this proposal, data will be comprehensively collected. The study will obtain primary data through group and private interviews and participant observation.

The researcher, with the help of leaders from chosen non-profit organisations, will select respondents from workers and organise for group and private interviews. The study will use questionnaires to gather information from group and private interviews. Respondents will be given time to react to different questions concerning the challenges they encounter in the attempts to convert their organisations to financially workable institutions.

Besides, they will get a chance to brainstorm and suggest some of the changes that their institutions can implement to overcome the challenges. Questions will be framed in unstructured mode to allow the participants to make clarifications on their responses.

The study will also apply the policy of active participation to gather uniform information. Investigator will be actively involved in data collection after duration of intense observation to familiarise with the procedures. The investigator will identify five non-profit organisations from the selected sample and organise for site visits to observe what transpires within the organisations.

The five organisations will be identified based on the measures they have taken to switch to financially viable institutions and the duration they have implemented the measures. The study will use this method to “Enhance the possibility of subjectivity of the research and complicate it to avert researcher provoked biases” (Stake, 1995, p. 44).

Stake (1995) asserts, “Subjectivity is not seen as a failing needing to be eliminated but as an essential element of understanding” (p. 45). The researcher will regularly assume neutral positions to limit biases. In addition, the researcher will gather secondary data from peer-reviewed journals and books. A key focus will be put on gathering of data from sources hailing from varied dimensions in search for a pattern and uniformity.

Secondary data will mainly be collected from peer-reviewed journals and books that tackle the topic of organisational change and development. Additionally, the study will use anecdotes compiled by organisational leaders detailing challenges encountered during corporate transformation. This will serve to supplement primary data collected from the field.

Data Analysis

The study will use a combination of ground theory, quasi-statistics and hermeneutical methods to analyse data. Ground theory will facilitate to interpret information gathered from secondary sources. Researcher will focus on pointers of categories in behaviour and phenomena. The pointers will be coded, and the codes compared to determine differences and consistencies.

Consistencies between codes will facilitate to establish categories of different trends and behaviours. The analysis will stop when no more classes can be obtained, and core and axial categories determined from the identified groups. As aforementioned, the study will gather data from different sources in search for consistency. Therefore, it will use quasi-statistic method of data analysis to achieve this.

The researcher will calculate the number of times particular challenges or measures are pointed out by various participants to determine their frequency. The researcher will then enumerate the challenges and measures to establish categories. In addition, the study will use quasi-statistic method in collaboration with the ground theory to determine if observations are altered.

The study will be subjective. It will seek to analyse the findings and come up with solutions based on the situations that non-profit organisations go through. Final solution will be reached based on information obtained from the respondents and secondary sources.

Therefore, the study will utilise hermeneutic analysis to analyse data gathered from the respondents. Researcher will try to take a neutral ground when interpreting the data. The analysis will rely on participants’ responses. The analysis will use a number of layers of interpretation and compare them with information corrected from secondary sources. Additionally, the researcher will use context to have a clear picture of the non-profit organisations.

Implementation Plan

For a qualitative study to be successful, researchers should prepare carefully and carry out research systematically. It is imperative to have a lucid plan of when to start and end a project so as to allocate adequate time for each activity. The study will involve a number of activities, which include organising for site visits, preparing questionnaires, holding group and private interviews and studying secondary data among others.

All these activities will be completed within a period of six months, and the findings compiled. The study will start with a thorough preparation, which will take a maximum of 20 days. Preparation will involve selecting non-profit organisations and secondary sources to use for the research. Additionally, it will entail looking for the necessary research materials and financial resources to facilitate the research process.

The next activity will be preparing questionnaires for use in the study. The activity will take 21 days. The researcher will run a pilot study of the questionnaires to find out if they will capture the needed information. Therefore, preparation of questionnaires will go hand-in-hand with identification of a sample group to use for pilot study.

Results gathered from the sample group will help to structure final questionnaires to be used during the actual study. The pilot study will help the researcher to identify the best non-profit organisations to use for the study. The activity will be followed by site visits to inform organisational leaders about the researcher’s intention to carry out research in their companies and seek authorisation.

Upon authorisation, the researcher will begin to identify respondents and seek their consent before furnishing them with questionnaires. This process will take 40 days. The activity requires adequate time since the researcher has to move from one non-profit organisation to another. Besides, the researcher will need time to familiarise the respondents with the study and convince them that the survey will observe and respect their privacy.

The researcher will start organising for group and private interviews immediately after coming up with the right number of participants. The interviews will take three weeks. Interviews will be held within the organisations and at the times when employees are not busy to avoid interfering with normal operations of the organisations.

Additionally, some group interviews will require more than one day ensuring that participants respond to all questions. The researcher will have to finish with one organisation before going to the other. All the ten non-profit institutions will be allocated equal time.

After group and private interviews, the researcher will identify five non-profit organisations and arrange for site visits to gain firsthand experience in how the corporations are trying to convert to financially viable institutions. The researcher will observe and videotape the activities going on in the organisation.

Moreover, the researcher will identify challenges that affect the activities. The activity will take 20 days, with the researcher spending four days in each organisation. It will be followed by collection of secondary data from peer-reviewed journals and organisational anecdotes. The researcher will visit public libraries to collect information on how non-profit organisations can transform into financially viable institutions.

Besides, the study will use the internet and other available resources. The process will last for 20 days. After data collection, the researcher will embark on data analysis. The researcher will require adequate time to analyse and compare data collected from different non-profit organisations.

Moreover, the researcher will require time to compare primary data with secondary data obtained from public library and organisational anecdotes. Data analysis and compilation will take 40 days. The researcher will have ample time to use all necessary methods of data analysis and comparison to come up with accurate and feasible conclusion. After compiling the results, the researcher will take ten days to present and explain the results.

Also, he will give recommendations on what should be done to help non-profit organisations transform to financially viable institutions. Below is a Gantt diagram for the research implementation.

Feb 01-Feb 20 Feb 21-March 13 March 14-April 27 April 28-May 18 May 19-June 07 June 07-July 17 July 17-July 24
Research preparation
Questionnaire development and running of pilot study
Respondents selection and interview administration
Active observation and video recording
Collection of secondary data
Data analysis and compilation
Research presentation

Critical Discussion/Conclusion

Biomatrix theory is a contemporary systems approach. It is a comprehensive approach to organisational transformation. The method was selected because it views an organisation as a system, which is developing over time.

Additionally, the approach puts into consideration environmental factors that influence organisational transformation. Gustavson (2001) alleges, “Biomatrix theory considers dynamic environment where pluralism and many-sidedness are the order rather than uniformity and single directedness….allows comprehensive analysis of organisations without losing picture of the whole organisation” (p. 20).

It is hard to give a precise solution on how non-profit corporations can transform into financially viable institutions. Nevertheless, with the help of Biomatrix theory, organisational leaders can incorporate feasible business models into non-profit institutions. What leaders should know is that before they start planning for transformation, they should have a clear picture of the institution’s future.

This study has the potential of converting non-profit organisations into financially viable institutions, therefore, ensuring their sustainability. Besides, the proposal has the potential of saving non-profit institutions the burden of looking for donors to fund their short-term projects.

Non-profit institutions are meant to benefit the public. Hence, there are state laws that dictate their activities. The proposal may give some recommendations that contravene state laws. Hence, it is imperative to understand all state laws before implementing the recommendations.

The proposed research may be susceptible to a number of ethical challenges. Participants may not be willing to disclose sensitive information due to fear of discrimination. Moreover, organisational leaders may decline to disclose information that they deem to violate state laws due to fear that it may reach state agents. Thus, the research may end up not gathering adequate and accurate information that can be used to give viable recommendations.


Archer, M. (2000). Being human: The problem of agency. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Argyris, C. (1993). Knowledge for action. A guide to overcoming barriers to organizational change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Banister, P., Burman, E., Parker, I., Taylor, M., & Tindall, C. (1994). Qualitative methods in psychology. A research guide. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Dostal, E. (2005). Biomatrix: A systems approach to organisational and societal change. Cape Town: University of Cape Town Press.

Gratton, L. (2004). The democratic enterprise. London: Pearson Education.

Gustavsen, B. (2004). Theory and practice: The mediating discourse. London: SAGE Publications.

Holbeche, L., (2009). Organisational development- what’s in a name? Impact, 26(1), 6-9.

Mayrhofer, W. (2004). Social systems theory as theoretical framework for human resource management-benediction or curse? Management Review, 15(2), 178-191.

McMillan, E. (2004). Complexity, organizations and change. London: Routledge.

Merriam, S. (1998). Qualitative research and case study applications in education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.

Pascale, R., Millemann, M., & Gioja, L. (2000). Surfing the edge of chaos. New York: Three Rivers Press.

Senge, P. (1990). The fifth discipline. New York: Doubleday.

Stake, R. (1995). The art of case study research. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications.

Todnem, R. (2005). Organisational change management: A critical review. Journal of Change Management, 5(4), 369-380.

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