Pallotta argues here that since our problems (i.e. hunger) are massive and systemic, the only way for nonprofits to stand a chance of winning against them is to consolidate efforts into one unified effort to eradicate the problem within a stated time frame. He advocates setting an audacious, specific goal and restructuring our sector around it so that it’s not about the little nonprofit’s mission, but about all of us reaching the goal. Only this larger vision will shift us away from the “fragmentation and redundancy” we’re currently facing.
I see what he means.
However, I’m coming from a bias against his argument because I don’t like or trust large organizations. I wrote about it here about a year ago. To me, they turn humans into numbers and the momentum they build up for the sake of efficiency is actually slow to change with the times. That being said, when a billion people are starving in a world with plenty of food, maybe it’s ok to focus on efficiency at the expense of personability and adaptability.
Ok, so let’s say Pallotta convinced me that bigger is better and that the process of consolidating wouldn’t completely derail our work for decades. I still have a couple major questions about how this would play out, and I’m actually quite interested in the answers.
1) How would the consolidated nonprofit system relate to current systems?
Would we be creating a giant system for the sake of efficiency to clean up after the other system? That does not seem efficient to me.
Or will this second giant system fundamentally change the first one? How will that not turn into a political mire? And what if it does succeed? How could something that big phase itself out or radically change itself to pursue a different goal? Are there any precedents for that actually happening?
2) How is this different?
How would this plan produce an organization whose impact is different from the United Nations and the World Health Organization – benevolent organizations that provide some leadership to their fragmented membership?
I’m not convinced from this one article that Pallotta has hit upon The Answer, but it was a great read that’s provided a ton of food for thought.