Nonprofit Integration Has Been the Holy Grail of Organization Success. But What Does it Mean?
Integration means many things: Coordinating across multiple channels, cooperating as separate teams, bridging divides between disciplines, and coherently communicating around shared ideas. But ultimately, it means a unified member experience.
Nonprofit organization leaders have tried long and hard to deliver on nonprofit integration in their organizations. They have revised processes, workflow, and organizational charts. They have created positions dedicated to facilitating integration. They have invested time, energy, and money into the quest. But, too often, it results in thoroughly produced and documented yet ineffective nonprofit integration processes.
Integration is one of the chief concerns leaders bring to nonprofit organization performance consultants. They are struggling to achieve intelligent, efficient, and effective integration. Many are overwhelmed and fear they are doing too little. Unfortunately, it’s just as likely that they are doing too much. Yes, there is such a thing as over-integration. Here is what it looks like.
Over Engineered Process
A common pitfall is trying to employ a unified, well-structured, thoroughly documented process that looks great on paper. All too often, these plans never work in practice.
It is not how the work gets done that needs to be super-structured and highly monitored. It is how people work together that does. Though simple, a framework defining how independent processes come together can be profound.
One Team In Name Only
A common pitfall is trying to employ a unified, well-structured, thoroughly documented process that looks great on paper. All too often, these plans never work in practice. It is not how the work gets done that needs to be super-structured and highly monitored. It is how people work together that does.
Technology As A Panacea
Nonprofit Integration For Its Own Sake
Integration is not an end in itself—too much focus on how the team works can be a fatal distraction from how teamwork happens. Internal alignment is essential. Yet fixating on the logistics of how a team functions should not take precedence over enhancing the member experience.
Effective integration will remain the goal for nonprofits and can significantly benefit your members. Without internal obstacles bogging you down, your organization will have the freedom to turn outward.
Nonprofit organizations that are most successful at integration have a philosophy and a checklist. They don’t focus on designing time-consuming, exhaustive processes with multiple steps. Influential leaders and innovators work against a framework rather than a rigid process. They have significant values and demonstrate their commitment to pursuing them through their mission.
In the tech world, for example, Apple has a laser focus on humanity-driven and intuitive design. GE strives to make life easier.
The key is to integrate what matters and only what matters — the defining ideas and the member’s experience.
For more insights and ideas on nonprofit integration, see 3 Ways to Tell if Your Nonprofit Alignment is Inside Out and What Does Integration Mean Anyway?