Jack's Journal - October 2021
The TANGO Principles at Age Five
Director of Nonprofit Education & Consulting
When I joined TANGO in 2016, I put a lot of thought into the philosophical underpinnings of the teaching system we were building – especially as it relates to the relationship between the business and the nonprofit sectors. At the time I articulated our principles in the five paragraphs below (which appear in our textbook), and I thought I’d pick them up again at this, the five-year anniversary, to see how they have stood up. Here they are – unchanged and with no need to change them:
- Nonprofit organizations and business organizations are equally important to the health and welfare of their communities.
- Nonprofit and business organizations are both responsible to the community for the successful fulfillment of the tasks within their mission or line of business, as applicable.
- Nonprofits are operating enterprises with perpetual missions and finite resources, and they must be sensitive to the underlying tension between the two. Nonprofits have a duty to deploy available resources effectively, cognizant of practical limitations in the face of enduring need and with respect for the challenges awaiting future members of their communities. Nonprofits are not entitled, simply by virtue of their mission, to donations, contributions, or gifts of goods or services. They must operate lawfully, efficiently and effectively to deliver quality goods and services in their communities, and to establish a positive reputation and goodwill that will attract donations and support. Nonprofits are “private” organizations in that they are managed by private individuals (the board of directors) but operate for public purposes.
- Businesses are accountable to their communities for the sale of quality goods and services at reasonable prices. They must operate within the law, create bona-fide opportunities for gainful employment, and generate new wealth in the community through innovation and expansion. Business organizations should also, directly and indirectly, provide meaningful financial and in-kind support to well managed nonprofit organizations within the community.
- Rigorous governance, management, and ethical principles and practices at all levels within nonprofit and business organizations are essential to their success and longevity. The total is greater than the sum of the parts. The entire community benefits when its nonprofits and businesses succeed. Business organizations make a profit so that nonprofit organizations do not have to do so.
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