Critical analysis of a Charitable Organization

The reality of poverty in several communities around the world is quite inescapable. Admittedly, varying types of government in every country is doing their best to fight the negative pull of poverty and socioeconomic struggles of communities, yet, a number are still at ends with their finances in daily living. At this point, other sectors in society steps in to support other areas that the government can no longer substantially support. According to Shelley (n.d.) the economic structure of Australia consists of three sectors: “private, public, and non-profit.” The public division is said to be primarily controlled by the government, where duties are performed by way of services offered through taxation policies and user fees. On the other side, private sectors are chiefly governed by market competition and economic gains of individual and collective assemblies. On the last section, nonprofit organizations neither fit the above descriptions. As it is, this is the category that lives off from the charity of the concerned public, either from private citizens, to private companies, and even the government pitches in to help.

In review, one of the reputed nonprofit organizations based in Australia is CARE Australia, which is run on both community and international level. With its founding origins dating back to 1945 in United States, the said charity organization had found its roots across the oceans in Australia on 1987. Now, it is already serving more than 20 neighboring countries in Pacific regions, and extends towards Africa. With a mission to serve impoverished communities, regardless of race and nationality, the said organization had set forth a number of empowering campaign programs to provide support (socially and economically), as well as offer emergency international aid when needed. Free from religious and political affiliation, CARE Australia is a charity institution that seeks to concentrate on the plight of women and young girls, as they believe that these groups are integral for successful and sustainable communities worldwide (Anon., 2009). In this paper, the internal structure and management conditions of the charity organization, CARE Australia, will be put into analytical perspective, where its leadership status and functions are reviewed, and probable resolutions to conflicts can be identified.

Organization Profile

The relative significance of charity organizations as the third community sector is indispensable. According to Palyvoda (2006), charity groups are beholden, not only in delivering public service to the poor and needy, but also in influencing other societal sectors to contribute with such altruistic pursuits in relevant service areas. In relative settings, most organizations take up a number of structural form and decisions-making process. Fuetchmann (n.d.) pointed out that for an organization to be legally accepted as a formal one, it must be incorporated first, and at best, possesses considerable properties in tax-free institutional status. In perspective, one can safely assume that an organization, even a nonprofit one, is liable to establish a formal structure in management. Henry (1998) listed the basic members in organizations, including “board members, chief executives and funders” (cited in Cornforth, 2001, p.13). The former two groups are the ones at topmost level, where they decide the movement of the organization, while staff within the organization simultaneously moves to perform the plans formulated by various management departments. As clarified by Gaist (2009), a well-managed organization should promote a structure that defines how each member should achieve their roles in, where decision-making activities are marginalized between the board, management officers, and the staff. As such, governance in the organization should be consistently delineated and followed-for organizational goals to be realized. Such responsibility falls primarily on the board of directors, which encompasses more than the obligation to manage the organizations, but should provide direction, efficacy, and accountability as leaders in the group (Angelini, 2005). With the power to appoint executives and committee officers, the board of directors is indeed influential in decision-making and general operations in organizations (Levrau, 2007). In such appeal, the importance of structure and role distinction is crucial for the survival of every organization.

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In application, CARE Australia, as a considerable charity foundation, adopted an organizational structure that is more of a corporate type. As illustrated in Figure 1 (please see Appendix A), the charity institutions is mainly governed by an organizational board, and their decisions are collaboratively translated through the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). As further observed in the diagram, the charity board is aided by several subcommittees, and are altogether supported by an advisory council. In horizontal line, the CEO takes on the responsibility of monitoring and managing the different organizational departments: “international operations, international programs, fundraising and communications, and corporate services” (Anon., 2009). In more ways, the foundation appeared to adapt a formal structure that is top-down in direction, from highest hierarchical officers down to administrative staff and volunteers. As discussed earlier, governance mainly falls on the shoulders of the board members, although discussions and negotiations are rendered between the board, the subcommittee members, and executive directors before any concrete decisions are cemented. In CARE Australia, there is a collaborative type in planning and decision-making aspects. As predicted, directors in the board look out for overall condition of the organization, where they approve, monitor, and evaluate program performance. At their side, advisory council supports and reinforces the decisions of the board, where they act as representative counsels, in lieu of community members. On the other side, subcommittees report directly to the board, where they enact on decisions the board formulated, yet, are of equal consultation with the board members in reaching the goals of the organization (Anon., 2009). Lastly, the various staff and teams are instrumental in the whole operation of the organization, as they set forth the wheels in making a reality the plans and programs formulated and agreed upon at upper management levels. The line for decision-making depends, thereby, on the organizational structure they maintain.

Corporate Structure: Pros and Cons

The structure of CARE Australia is quite complex in framework, where this type of governance by the board may yield both positive and negative outcomes. The board of directors, as identified by Collin (2005), serves as mediating body between organizational management and stakeholders, where the latter can communicate their desires through association with the board. As a charity organization operating on international scale, CARE Australia caters to numerous stakeholders–concerned public citizens in Australia, institutional sponsors from both government and private associations, and targeted impoverished communities (Anon., 2009). This clarified, the more influential stakeholder is revealed, where its power lies in parallel with the mission of the team, community empowerment, making public communities the real stakeholders in such organization. At this point, local community stakeholders hold the influencing power on the broader scale, while government and private institutions remain in the background-silent partners in the achievement of program goals and organizational missions. This delegating principle at the base level of the hierarchy is quite effective, for it promotes supportive delegation where needed-at the community level.

As indicated in earlier discussions, the board in CARE Australia adopts the role as approval body, evaluator of strategies and project performance, as well as regulating body in balancing the executive and management functions of the other members in the organization. In theory, the board may take the form of stewardship perception, where they are independent in function, or it may adopt shareholder dependency practice, prioritizing shareholders’ condition above that of the organization (Collin, 2005). In relation, CARE Australia appeared to emulate the former view, where organization’s mission and goals are topmost priority. By doing so, it indirectly adhere to stakeholders’ community development. Significantly, the board is quite active in its encompassing role, beyond passive rubber stamp appeal, as it dynamically engages with subcommittees and advisory group, contributing to well-directed activities in the organization.

Their leadership is more participative in construct, as the board monitors those at lower ranks in delivering services to communities. As such, there is mutual collaboration with locals in area programs, as staff management directly deals with community citizens, in line with the mission of the organization and the goals of formulated projects–decentralizing leadership management assures accountability, and transparency in both financial and operational progress (Anon., 2009). Accountability is delegated in lower management, but the board still holds control, ensuring that no dead spaces in function can occur between the planning and implementation stage of community programs. Yet, such notion may not be as idealistic as it appears. The problem with this functional structure is that it projects excessive staff innovation, leading to “loss of corporate identity…(and) stagnation in individual regions” (Clark, 1991). Continuous monitoring and strong commitment to the organization may counteract the negativity brought by this type of organizational structure.

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Current Organizational Conflict

The governance with the board may appear to be running smoothly, with defined organizational structure, and clear margins on the roles that all members have to maintain. Yet conflicts may arise in two patterns: disagreements between the board and management department, and the rise of too much professionalism in volunteer-based charity groups. On the first case, Anne-Line, Annick, and Marc (2009), admitted perceptions may differ among the members of the top organization level, especially in terms of policy set-ups, management planning and financing, as well as settling disputes within organizational network. As the board in CARE Australia seemed to promote the participant leadership style, relegated staff channels can have their say; however, this can also be a potential pitfall, in some ways. Clark (1991) placed emphasis on the possibility that staff compromise may lead to nonconstructive values, where lower ranked personnel may consequently guard substantial decisions that they think may negatively impact projected plans, inhibiting creativity in promoting harmony. Aside from staff hesitancy, ambiguousness on the nature of staff and higher authority relation may lead to discontent and lack of organizational motivation. Collin (2005) identified the motivations that drive individuals in organization: need to belong and instinct to duty. The former denotes loyalty the group, while the latter is more individualized, where outcomes depend on self-perceptions on how to perform one’s duty. The resolution with the first organizational dilemma on disagreements and inhibiting obligations is by enacting on these two motivations. Internal control within the organization must be strengthened, possibly through enhancing communication lines between board members and executive directors, and in worse scenarios, the former can either remove or compensate the latter management (Levrau, 2007).By projecting governance that is loyal to the cause of the organization’s mission, above self-interest, commitment can also be stabilized between the top and lower management.

With regard to increasing professionalism in nonprofit organizations, the danger with this value in governance can be targeted on too much administrative work, where groups can lose focus on the charity work itself. Admittedly, CARE Australia hires individuals with excellent professional qualifications, and even allots part of the resource funds in maintaining the efficiency of the said management teams. From the board members down to management staff, each one boosts a professional status that belies the strength of sustainable governance in the association. Yet, such technical competency in management is not sufficient in sustaining a good organization, as performance on the social and emotional level are said to be of equal importance in the progress of organizations (Anne-Line, Annick, and Marc (2009). As such, interrelationship should not suffer in the face of excessive administrative competence. Again, lines of communications should be kept open, where everyone is given the chance, one way or the other, in airing their constructive views and concerns through the right channels. Social association, then, is quite substantial and must therefore be incorporated within the informal lines of organizational structure. Promoting this can be quite tricky, as individual differences can get in the way. In resolution, everyone should be judiciously encouraged to adapt strong commitment towards the goals and mission of the organization, and policies must be ratified to accommodate behaviors that promote mutual collaboration between staff personnel and their superiors. The solution should work both ways, where those in authority should identify with the management committees, broadening their perspectives to allow for wider staff opportunities in rendering unified projects and services, while professional staff should know how to properly express their ideas and concerns in hierarchical procedures. Again, well-defined organization structure can aid in such pursuits.

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Summary and Conclusion

Summarily, structure and functional roles in a charity organization relegate important parts in the development and progress of an organization. As the third sector in Australian society, and even in other societal regions, the existence of charity organizations are said to fill the gaps in community services that the government had not been able to perform due to a number of reasons. In altruistic sense, such roles in fighting the rampant case poverty and related societal issues are the main goals of such nonprofit groups. Although they may differ on the priority groups they may focus on, most are founded on the belief that they can be instrumental in easing the struggles of impoverished citizens in the community level. In order to deliver services in an efficient manner, organizations must have an internal network that is both stable in structure and function. To fulfill such requirements, most charity organizations adapt a corporate type of governance, where it commonly comprised of the board, executive directors, the staff management, and the stakeholders on the side. Although the stakeholders do not take active participation in actual operations, most of them primarily fund the organization, providing the necessary resources in order to sustain programs and projects, all the while the community stakeholders take precedence in the organization, where their conditions are the main concerns the organization deals on.

These concepts are summarily adapted in CARE Australia, where added appendages included the advisory council and the subcommittees, where the delegation process promises faster results and efficient delivery of projected services. Yet, it seemed that the benefits reaped from such conceptual structure and functions can also be the crux for conflicts to arise. For one, decision-making may be marginalized between the board and executive management, yet, disagreements may arise when motivations between the two bodies may differ. At this point, self-interest may get in the way towards belongingness and harmony within the group. Another problem observed in the full organizational development is the excessive administrative professionalism that the teams assume. In the first place, such sector is more on volunteer works, where charity works are the primary focus. Technical expertise can somehow affect the social and emotional unilateralism in the organization, where it may threaten the status of community projects. At this point, dilemmas can be traced back to administrative conformity against social relations, where the latter is stifled as part of the organization’s policies-removing opportunities to reach out in local community degrees. As these problems are identified, one can assume that no matter how compact and defined an organization is, there can still be problems along the way. As counteract measures, all members of the organization must be aware on where they stand in the hierarchal structure, with their roles are clearly defined, and they should know the directions they will be taking. To arrive at such situation, competence in technical and social levels must be tempered with open lines in communication from the top management and down to staff at the fields. In such means, existing and potential problems can be identified and resolved before it had time to fester and destroy organizational harmony. Preventive measures, then, is the best way to manage organizations such as CARE Australia, ensuring their sustenance for longer service provisions.

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