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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Managing Change in Not-for-Profits with the Introduction of Strategic Partnerships

The development, design, implementation and monitoring of change management programs is generally an organisational challenge irrespective of it being in a commercial or a not-for-profit environment. 

NFP environments however provide some additional characteristics, with one of the key ones being the extent to which pressure for change derives from external environmental considerations to possibly a greater extent than commercial organisations, where change programs find themselves being initiated equally from within the organisation, albeit still being driven hierarchically. 

Current external pressures being applied to NFPs relate directly from the perceived impacts of the Federal Government reforms to this sector, which, in some cases, may go to the heart of survival for some of Australia's smallest NFP participants. 

One of the outcomes may be rationalisation within this sector. In many cases this rationalisation may result in the development and expansion of strategic partnerships amongst these smaller service providers.  

The development of partnerships, strategic or otherwise, may be a challenge to many in this sector. In New South Wales, the Disability Services Sector is currently undergoing, or about to undergo, such a challenge, as the current method of financing the sector becomes redundant in July 2014 with moves by the State Government to direct payment for services through the person obtaining the service, as distinct to the current and long standing model of financing the service provider directly based on the number of programs and the number of people undertaking these. The Person Centred Approach now becomes the central plank for the large number of service providers in this sector.

Will this prove successful, either from the Person's perspective or indeed form the sector's perspective? This is an unknown quantity at the moment. What is also in question is the extent to which the State Government is actually ready for this change itself, let alone the myriad of service providers currently in existence.

A number of these smaller NFPs operating in this sector will be challenged in terms of their marketing and 'business development' activities, their ability to effectively 'cost' the services they provide and finally, their ability to maintain their focus.

Whilst some will consider that they may in fact lose business as a result of their customers looking further afield for such services, some in the industry, quite rightly, believe that there is also opportunity to pick up additional clients as those people do in fact look further afield.

This is where strategic partnerships may be a solution to this dilemma. However, before looking to involve themselves in such partnerships, they need to effectively change their existing business model and internal organisational mindset to cope with the new forms of doing and seeking business.


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