This issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly examines the intersection between the personal and the organizational in our work. Nonprofits, of course are a particularly personal form of organization. Many are born from passion and fueled by the energy and commitment of individual human beings who are intent on making the world better in some way. However, as you will read in a number of the articles in this issue, sometimes we lose sight of when and how personal issues begin to negatively affect how organizations function.
On the other side of that personal/organizational intersection, moreover, are the quirks of the social system in which we exist. The ways in which personal psychology influences organizational psychology, and in which a systemwide pathology may transfer itself to an organization, are many times difficult to unravel.
But the Nonprofit Quarterly tries not to neglect this difficult task by examining some of the strange behaviors that we witness (and participate in!) in the course of managing our beloved organizations.
This issue includes an article on the role that founders play, both in our sector and in our organizations, and how our models and behaviors have led to less-than-ideal organizational and funding responses. We also include an article suggesting that the apparent inability of philanthropy to deal with diversity in its own ranks may filter down into our own field unless we take a more active role around diversity issues. The dogs on the issue’s front cover depict our own personal demons, with which we struggle each day, and a good example of this struggle is contained within Sandra Janoff’s article about the dangers of defensiveness, both personal and organizational.
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There are many ways in which we can be drawn off track, letting personal or even institutional interests drive the course of our work. Neither should, of course, take precedence over that which benefits the public or the community, but sometimes it is a herculean task to stay on track.
Elsewhere in our pages we present a wonderful article on how a community economic-development intermediary is thinking about networking as a method for achieving scale in its efforts and an article that talks about the basic practices of participatory evaluation that we should all consider for inclusion in our planning, evaluation and governance processes.
As always, we leave each issue feeling that there is much more that could be said about each topic; so we hope that you will help us expand our own and our readers’ understanding of these topics by commenting back to us with your own observations and experiences.