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Getting to "No"

Beyond mobilizing an organization to do the right thing, Smart Customization gives the organization the discipline to avoid certain traps. In the realm of business, it has helped many companies stick to what they do best. In the nonprofit world, it is beginning to help executives see when a request by a deep-pocketed philanthropist or nongovernmental organization to take on a new project that doesn’t quite align with the organization’s mission should be turned down. Ultimately, Smart Customization is a tool that can help any complex organization learn when it’s necessary to say no.

Author Profiles:

Curt Bailey ([email protected]) is a principal with Booz Allen Hamilton in San Francisco. His expertise lies in defining and implementing operations strategies for manufacturing and service industries, with extensive experience in building operations capabilities for aerospace manufacturers, telecommunications companies, health insurers, financial institutions, and other producers of highly engineered products and services.

Karla Martin ([email protected]) is a principal with Booz Allen Hamilton in San Francisco. Her work focuses on the role of organization in driving growth and reducing complexity. 
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  1. Alan J. Abramson and Lester M. Salamon, “The Nonprofit Sector and the Federal Budget: Fiscal Year 2006 and Beyond,” Aspen Institute, 2005: Research report suggesting that the rate of U.S. government funding for nonprofits is heading for decline. Click here.
  2. “Doing Well and Doing Good,” Economist, July 29, 2004: If you read only one article on philanthropic trends, this overview is it. Click here. 
  3. Katherine Fulton and Andrew Blau, “Looking Out for the Future: An Orientation for Twenty-first Century Philanthropists,” Global Business Network and Monitor Institute, 2005: Scenario approach shows why changes in long-term trends raise the stakes for philanthropists. Click here. 
  4. Tom Hansson, Jürgen Ringbeck and Markus Franke, “Flight for Survival: A New Business Model for the Airline Industry,” s+b, Summer 2003: Could the airlines, as they struggle for focus, provide a model of good and bad Smart Customization strategy for NGOs? Click here.
  5. Leslie Moeller, Matthew Egol, and Karla Martin, “Smart Customization: Profitable Growth Through Tailored Business Streams,” s+b Resilience Report, 11/11/03: More concise version of the Oliver, Moeller, Lakenan article (see below). Click here. 
  6. Keith Oliver, Leslie H. Moeller, and Bill Lakenan: “Smart Customization: Profitable Growth Through Tailored Business Streams,” s+b, Spring 2004: How such companies as Unilever, BP, Hearst Magazines, Campbell Soup, and Time Warner find “virtuous variety.” Click here. 
  7. Loren Renz and Josefina Atienza, “International Grantmaking Update: A Snapshot of U.S. Foundation Trends,” Foundation Center, October 2006 Click here.: and Loren Renz, Steven Lawrence, and Josefina Atienza, “Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates: Current Outlook,” 2006 edition, Foundation Center: Click here. Authoritative sources (along with other Foundation Center publications) for statistics on and analysis of foundation growth and support, particularly in the U.S.
  8. Lester M. Salamon and Richard O’Sullivan, “Stressed but Coping: Nonprofit Organizations and the Current Fiscal Crisis,” Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies, Listening Post Project, January 19, 2004: This survey of American nonprofits finds them “entrepreneurial organizations, responding actively and creatively to new fiscal pressures.” Click here. 
  9. Paul G. Schervish, “Today’s Wealth Holder and Tomorrow’s Giving: The New Dynamics of Wealth and Philanthropy,” Journal of Gift Planning, 3rd Quarter 2005, available through Boston College Center on Wealth and Philanthropy: Current estimates (as of 2006) of the forthcoming “largest intergenerational transfer of wealth in history,” the anticipated billions in individual legacies. Click here.
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