A system dynamics perspective of the non-profit organisation's quest for sustainability: a case study.
MetadataShow full item record
The process of investigating this organisation’s quest for sustainability began by recognition of the struggle to remain sustainable as a common one among NPOs the world over. The sustainability of non-profit organizations is of vital importance as the non-profit sector contributes large amounts of time, energy and resources to the upliftment of society, while faced with constant financial, environmental and organizational uncertainty and ambiguities. It was recognised that the sustainability of NPOs is a complex issue requiring a methodology that could capture such complexity adequately. A Qualitative System Dynamics methodology was chosen based on its merits in enhancing understanding regarding complex problem issues. In addition, the study was guided by a case study approach with the empirical work been conducted on the Oxfam Great Britain (GB) affiliate operating in SA. Empirical investigations, together with careful scrutiny of organisational documentation formed the basis of the findings that emerged which pointed to seven themes as integral to the sustainability of Oxfam affiliates, namely: (1) Human Resource capacity (2) Credibility of the organisation (3) Partnerships (4) Competition in the non-profit sector (5) Co-financing and funding arrangements (6) Navigating the North-South Dilemma and (7) the dynamics involved in attempts to remain apolitical. Sustainability was recognised as being emergent from the feedbacks within and between such themes. Furthermore, it was recognised that due to the constantly changing nature of such feedbacks and of the environment in which the organisation is embedded, non-profits tend to traverse a sustainability landscape in terms of being more sustainable at certain times and less sustainable at other times, depending on how they respond to such change. A number of external influences emanating outside of the organisation were also identified as impacting the NPOs sustainability, including the influence of the political and economic systems in which the organisation was embedded, the impact of donors’ perceptions of South Africa as a middle-income or prosperous nation, the external pressures encouraging the establishment of a South African Oxfam affiliate in SA, and the impact of the global economic recession on international aid and development efforts. Overall implications for the NPO sector were also identified including the effect of continuous giving to well-known or “successful” NPOs such as Oxfam, as well as the consequences of an ever-growing NPO sectors’ reliance on ever-shrinking funding pools.