Implementing Change in Nonprofit Organizations

  • Kunle AkingbolaEmail author
  • Sean Edmund Rogers
  • Alina Baluch


This chapter provides an overview of the strategic importance, key activities, and tools used to implement change in NPOs. Baluch draws on a wide body of research on organizational change in the nonprofit field to identify the unique nonprofit characteristics in implementing change and examine the facilitating role of learning, leadership, and organizational culture, and HRM during change. The chapter also addresses resistance to change and why change implementation fails in NPOs. Baluch further analyzes the dynamics of change, a range of strategic responses to the external funding environment and change strategies for different stages of a nonprofit’s development. These insights are drawn from a comprehensive research on organizational change in NPOs from 1998 to 2018, using the Web of Science database. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the key findings and draws implications for nonprofit managers and employees when implementing change.


  1. AbouAssi, K., & Tschirhart, M. (2018). Organizational Response to Changing Demands: Predicting Behavior in Donor Networks. Public Administration Review, 78(1), 126–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Akingbola, K. (2013). Contingency, Fit and Flexibility of HRM in Nonprofit Organizations. Employee Relations, 35(5), 479–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Auer, J. C., Twombly, E. C., & De Vita, C. J. (2011). Social Service Agencies and Program Change. Public Performance & Management Review, 34(3), 378–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Balser, D. B., & Carmin, J. (2009). Leadership Succession and the Emergence of an Organizational Identity Threat. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 20, 185–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baluch, A. M. (2012). Human Resource Management in Nonprofit Organizations. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Berman, E. M. (1999). Professionalism Among Public and Nonprofit Managers: A Comparison. American Review of Public Administration, 29(2), 149–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bloodgood, E. A., & Tremblay-Boire, J. (2011). International NGOs and National Regulation in an Age of Terrorism. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 22, 142–173.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, J. A., Gianiodis, P. T., & Santoro, M. D. (2015). Following Doctors’ Orders: Organizational Change as a Response to Human Capital Bargaining Power. Organization Science, 26(5), 1284–1300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bucher, S., Jaeger, U. P., & Cardoza, G. (2016). FUNDES: Becoming a Strategically Mindful Nonprofit. Journal of Business Research, 69(10), 4489–4498.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burt, E., & Taylor, J. (2003). New Technologies, Embedded Values, and Strategic Change: Evidence from the U.K. Voluntary Sector. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 32(1), 115–127.Google Scholar
  11. Chad, P. (2016). Corporate Rebranding: An Employee-Focused Nonprofit Case Study. Journal of Nonprofit & Public Sector Marketing, 28(4), 327–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chen, C.-A. (2014). Revisiting Organizational Age, Inertia, and Adaptability: Developing and Testing a Multi-Stage Model in the Nonprofit Sector. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 27(2), 251–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dover, G., & Lawrence, T. B. (2012). The Role of Power in Nonprofit Innovation. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(6), 991–1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fitzgerald, S., Rainnie, A., Goods, C., & Morris, L. (2014). The Restructuring of WA Human Services and Its Implications for the Not-for-Profit Sector. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 49(4), 509–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harris, M. J. (2011). Strategic Planning in an International Nongovernmental Development Organization: The Creation of a Meta-Identity. Administration & Society, 43(2), 216–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Herman, R., & Renz, D. (2004). Doing Things Right: Effectiveness in Local Nonprofit Organizations, a Panel Study. Public Administration Review, 64(6), 694–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hvenmark, J. (2016). Ideology, Practice, and Process? A Review of the Concept of Managerialism in Civil Society Studies. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 27, 2833–2859.Google Scholar
  18. Jaeger, U., & Beyes, T. (2010). Strategizing in NPOs: A Case Study on the Practice of Organizational Change Between Social Mission and Economic Rationale. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 21(1), 82–100.Google Scholar
  19. Jaeger, U., & Rehli, F. (2012). Cooperative Power Relations Between Nonprofit Board Chairs and Executive Directors. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 23, 219–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jaskyte, K., Byerly, C., Bryant, A., & Koksarova, J. (2010). Transforming a Nonprofit Work Environment for Creativity. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 21, 77–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kaynama, S. A., & Keesling, G. (2000). An Empirical Investigation of the Nonprofit Organization Responses to Anticipated Changes in Government Support for HIV/AIDS Services: A Cross-Regional Analysis. Journal of Business Research, 47, 19–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Knutsen, W. L. (2012). Adapted Institutional Logics of Contemporary Nonprofit Organizations. Administration & Society, 44(8), 985–1013.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Koch, B. J., Galaskiewicz, J., & Pierson, A. (2015). The Effect of Networks on Organizational Missions. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 44(3), 510–538.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Langer, J., & LeRoux, K. (2017). Developmental Culture and Effectiveness in Nonprofit Organizations. Public Performance & Management Review, 40(3), 457–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lawrence, T. B., Mauws, M. K., Dyck, B., & Kleysen, R. F. (2005). The Politics of Organizational Learning: Integrating Power into the 4I Framework. Academy of Management Review, 30, 180–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Liu, G., & Ko, W.-W. (2012). Organizational Learning and Marketing Capability Development: A Study of the Charity Retailing Operations of British Social Enterprise. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(4), 580–608.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lutz Allen, S., Smith, J. E., & Da Silva, N. (2013). Leadership Style in Relation to Organizational Change and Organizational Creativity: Perceptions from Nonprofit Organizational Members. Nonprofit Management and Leadership, 24, 23–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Never, B. (2011). Understanding Constraints on Nonprofit Leadership Tactics in Times of Recession. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 40(6), 990–1004.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ogliastri, E., Jagger, U., & Prado, A. (2015). Strategy and Structure in High-Performing Nonprofits: Insights from Iberoamerican Cases. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 27, 222–248.Google Scholar
  30. Oppenheimer, M., Warburton, J., & Carey, J. (2014). The Next ‘New’ Idea: The Challenges of Organizational Change, Decline and Renewal in Australian Meals on Wheels. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations, 26(4), 1550–1569.Google Scholar
  31. Paarlberg, L. E., & Bielefeld, W. (2009). Complexity Science—An Alternative Framework for Understanding Strategic Management in Public Serving Organizations. International Public Management Journal, 12(2), 236–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Reid, W., & Turbide, J. (2012). Board/Staff Relationships in a Growth Crisis: Implications for Nonprofit Governance. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 41(1), 82–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rosenbaum, D., More, E., & Steane, P. (2017). A Longitudinal Qualitative Case Study of Change in Nonprofits: Suggesting a New Approach to the Management of Change. Journal of Management & Organization, 23(1), 74–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Schlosser, F., McPhee, D. M., & Forsyth, J. (2017). Chance Events and Executive Career Rebranding: Implications for Career Coaches and Nonprofit HRM. Human Resource Management, 56, 571–591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Silver, S., Randolph, W. A., & Seibert, S. (2006). Implementing and Sustaining Empowerment: Lessons Learned from Comparison of a For-Profit and a Nonprofit Organization. Journal of Management Inquiry, 15(1), 47–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Solebello, N., Tschirhart, M., & Leiter, J. (2016). The Paradox of Inclusion and Exclusion in Membership Associations. Human Relations, 69(2), 439–460.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Spall, P., & Zetlin, D. (2004). Third Sector In Transition—A Question of Sustainability for Community Service Organizations and the Sector? Australian Journal of Social Issues, 39, 283–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Stephenson, M. O., Schnitzer, M. H., & Arroyave, V. M. (2009). Nonprofit Governance, Management, and Organizational Learning: Exploring the Implications of One “Mega-Gift”. The American Review of Public Administration, 39(1), 43–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Strichman, N., Bickel, W. E., & Marshood, F. (2008). Adaptive Capacity in Israeli Social Change Nonprofits. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 37(2), 224–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Suárez, D. F., & Esparza, N. (2017). Institutional Change and Management of Public-Nonprofit Partnerships. The American Review of Public Administration, 47(6), 648–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kunle Akingbola
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sean Edmund Rogers
    • 2
  • Alina Baluch
    • 3
  1. 1.Lakehead UniversityOrilliaCanada
  2. 2.University of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA
  3. 3.University of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

Personalised recommendations