The title says it all in David La Piana and Michaela Hayes’ Play to Win: The Nonprofit Guide to Competitive Strategy. Whether they recognize it or not, these authors write, nonprofit organizations compete with one another for clients, staff, funds and media attention despite the collaborative and often anti-competitive ethos that pervades nonprofit culture. The sooner they recognize and address this dimension of their work the better off they and the communities they serve will be.
The book begins with background on why nonprofits often fail to embrace the competitive dimensions of their work and instead choose to focus attention on forming collaborative relationships. The authors roll out the usual suspects here including an overall orientation towards inclusiveness and sharing and an antithesis to values normally associated with the marketplace whose spillover ‘bads’― inequality, poverty, lack of opportunity― they seek to mitigate. La Piana and Hayes point out as well that collaboration is often something foisted on nonprofit organizations by the foundations and governmental entities that fund them.
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