While NGOs are struggling for revenue in Spain – where, before the economic crisis, 82% of their income came from the state – I’ve been re-reading an article by Drucker entitled “What Business Can Learn from Nonprofits”, which in 1989 caused a commotion among readers of the Harvard Business Review.
While I’ve been re-reading Drucker’s assertion that NGOs are leaders in the most crucial area of management — the motivation and productivity of knowledge workers — I’ve also been working on the final post-mortem report on the subjects taught at ESADE with the service learning methodology. And I have found that, in their responses to a satisfaction survey, 80 international students described the experience of applying management in NGOs (Arrels Foundation for homeless care and Josep Carreras Foundation for bone marrow donations) in terms such as the following: “Really one of my best courses throughout my entire higher education; “It’s been a long time since a subject motivated me this much”; “A unique experience for someone who wants to go into business: dealing with clients, the importance of stakeholders, the importance of results, and social impact”.
These are future millennial managers who dream of careers at McKinsey, Procter & Gamble or Apple. But this was a real project, with sales and results, applied to NGOs, where they experienced a true adrenaline rush.
Drucker noted 25 years ago that “when I ask executives why they volunteer, too many say “because there isn’t enough challenge in my job”. Drucker, forgive me: let’s amend this headline. Today, I propose an article entitled “What Business Can Buy from Nonprofits: Passion and Employee Commitment”. Such a model would lead to more income for NGOs, thanks to the solid value proposition; greater societal impact in the terms defined in the NGOs’ mission statements; and companies that gain from being able to providing greater challenges.