Common sense often dictates that nonprofit managers consider ways to condense services'”this means reducing overhead and expenses by striving to reduce any overlap or duplication and, possibly, condensing the service delivery to one or two locations. One important question that managers must ask themselves, however, is whether condensing services actually reduced accessibility, thereby negatively impacting the ability to fulfill the organization’s mission.
When a nonprofit organization focuses strictly on the bottom line, it can detract from paying attention to the reason(s) the organization exists in the first place. Efficient and cost-effective service delivery may not be the same thing as making sure that the services are available and accessible to the people who need them. For example, does it actually make sense to expect customers or clients to travel miles to access services or is it better to take the services to where they are most needed? This may mean having multiple service delivery outlets. While this might not be economically “smart”‘”it might be the exact strategy needed to fulfill the mission.
A nonprofit organization has an obligation to put its mission first, but there is also the fiscal reality of delivering those services needed. This means that management and staff must find a balance between the need to condense and carefully control expenses and resources, and the needs of the organization’s constituency. When considering whether consolidating or merging is the best option, make sure to take into account whether or not this will make it harder for people to access the services offered. Consider how available, accessible and “easy” it is to get what is needed to those who most need it. Condensing service delivery may make economic sense during a tough economy, but it may detract from the very reason the nonprofit organization or agency exists.