Non-profit or 501(c)(3) organizations are business companies that are given special status due to the public service in various areas. The primary benefit of such positions is the exemption from taxes, granted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in America (Kenton, 2020). In other words, the government acknowledges the social cause and public benefits associated with non-profit organizations (NPOs) and provides corresponding business advantages. Most 501(c)(3) organizations operate in either educational or healthcare areas; however, religion, public safety, science, and common literacy are also subject to NPOs. The current project analyzes the HEADstrong Foundation – a non-profit organization that helps cancer patients in Philadelphia.
Overview of the Foundation
The HEADstrong Foundation has been assisting people with lymphoma and other variations of cancer for over fourteen years, and the vision of the company is directly related to the founder of the NPO. The HEADstrong Foundation was established in 2007 by Nicolas Colleluori – a young man diagnosed with B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (HEADstrong Foundation, 2021). During his battle with cancer, Nicolas realized the lack of resources available to patients and created the first version of the HEADstrong Foundation. The primary objective was to assist cancer patients and, particularly, student athletes going through treatment by raising money to cover healthcare expenses and motivation programs (HEADstrong Foundation, 2021). Unfortunately, Nick died in November of the same year without experiencing the results of his work. However, the HEADstrong Foundation stays true to its initial vision and has assisted more than 18 000 patients and families since 2007.
After Nick’s demise in 2007, the foundation continued its services and teamed up with Brine Lacrosse while launching the first program against cancer. In 2009, the HEADstrong Foundation commenced delivering Comfort Kits to patients struggling against the disease and established the Lymphoma Research Fund at the Abramson Cancer Center (HEADstrong Foundation, 2021). Throughout the following years, the foundation has continued collaborating with various sports and healthcare programs to ensure the advance of its cause. In 2013, the efforts of the company were acknowledged, and the HEADstrong Foundation received John H. Randolph Inspirational Reward and was enlisted into the Delaware County Athletes Hall of Fame (HEADstrong Foundation, 2021). Since then, the organization has been faithful to its cause and has continued its mission to help people with cancer. By 2021, the HEADstrong Foundation has raised more than $18,000,000 and assisted more than 17 000 people struggling against cancer.
Needless to say, the continuous efforts for more than fourteen years and highly noticeable community presence have significantly improved the public value of the company. Due to the easing of pandemic restrictions, the organization plans five events to further advance its cause in October (HEADstrong Foundation, 2021). Combined with social media advertising and collaboration with other programs, the company was able to establish a good public image and found loyal supporters (HEADstrong Foundation, 2021). Public value is of utmost significance for non-profit organizations, since individual donations and grants constitute the largest part of the funding (Cabral et al., 2019). The research has demonstrated that improving the public image of the organization should be the top priority for NPOs, and appropriate strategies are required (Cabral et al., 2019). Furthermore, collaboration with similar organizations is one of the most effective ways to create additional value support (Cabral et al., 2019). Ultimately, the increased interest of the local community in the activities of the HEADstrong Foundation and a large number of loyal followers transparently indicate the appropriate strategy of public value.
The core business strategy of the HEADstrong Foundation revolves around continuous improvement and core value support by organizing sports and healthcare events. The development of grants and collaboration programs brings attention to the problem of cancer, and individual donations are the primary source of financial support for the HEADstrong Foundation. Additionally, the company has its own merchandise consisting mainly of clothes and accessories, and the revenue from the sales is redirected to support people in need. Furthermore, the HEADstrong Foundation provides temporary accommodation in the house of the founder, which is financially advantageous to cancer patients coming to Philadelphia for treatment (HEADstrong Foundation, 2021). Ultimately, the HEADstrong Foundation administers a large number of services and is consistently collaborating with various sports organizations and programs to establish a noticeable local presence in the community.
The management of the HEADstrong Foundation comprises of Board of Directors, Key Staff, Key Partners, and volunteers. The Board of Directors, consisting of twelve people, overviews the vision of the company and provides leadership support (HEADstrong Foundation, 2020). The key members include Cheryl Colleluori – President; Michael Colleluori – Vice President; and seven other members supervising marketing and business development (HEADstrong Foundation, 2020). Additionally, the organization is supported by Key Partners – Pat Colleluori, Nick’s father, and a patient support group consisting of Jessy Kyle and Joseph Clifford (HEADstrong Foundation, 2020). Lastly, the organization seeks help from more than a hundred volunteers for event planning and patient support.
Human Resources Development
While a comprehensive management structure is essential for every business organization, volunteers constitute the core part of non-profit companies. Therefore, it is the objective of the human resources (HR) team to ensure that every event has a sufficient number of volunteers and supporters. At present, the HEADstrong foundation recruits people in a voluntary manner via the website and social media platforms, specifically, Facebook and Instagram (HEADstrong Foundation, 2020). Nevertheless, retaining volunteers is a challenging task that has been the central point of discussion concerning the improvement of NPOs (Benevene et al., 2018). The research demonstrates that the dropout rates among volunteers are very high regardless of country and activities; therefore, it is essential to enhance the leadership strategies to decrease the turnover rate (Benevene et al., 2018). The HEADstrong foundation relies heavily on its volunteers for most events and the accommodation of the guests in Nick’s house. Therefore, a comprehensive HR strategy for volunteers and employees should become the primary strategy for development.
At present, the economic state of the NPO is stable with a sufficient amount of reserve funds. According to the annual report 2020, the raised revenue was equal to $2,484,551 from several sources, including individual donations ($1,006,250), HEADstrong Lacrosse Membership ($802,188), and events ($382,795) (HEADstrong Foundation, 2020). Due to tax-exempt status, the total expenses primarily comprised of program costs, Lacrosse Club contributions, and salaries, and were equal to $1,711,926 (HEADstrong Foundation, 2020). Furthermore, the company spent $183,143 on administrative services; as a result, the remaining finances ($589,482) are allocated to reserve funds (HEADstrong Foundation, 2020). Ultimately, the company receives a considerable level of support to continue its line of work and support people battling against cancer.
Potential Challenges and Analysis
The HEADstrong Foundation has been immensely active since 2007 and has assisted more than 17000 cancer patients while also organizing charity events and sports activities. These results transparently demonstrate the faithful devotion of the leaders to the craft and the good cause of the organization. Furthermore, the reserve funds are growing each year, indicating the appropriate business strategy and providing the safety net in case of emergencies. Nevertheless, there is space for improvement, and it is vital to analyze some of the most challenging areas that could potentially obstruct the work of the HEADstrong Foundation. Subjectively, the two most relevant barriers are financial independence and volunteer retention.
One of the potential challenges that a large number of non-profit organizations encounter is the dependence on individual donations. The research has demonstrated that donor influence might have a negative impact on long-term investments and capacity (Ranucci & Lee, 2019). In many cases, NPOs are content with the current amount of funding and deny the opportunities to further advance their cause (Ranucci & Lee, 2019). While this is not a direct disadvantage of the organization, the HEADstrong Foundation has an extensive amount of reserve funds that could be potentially used for long-term investments and innovations. Furthermore, donor influence is a volatile source of financial support, which might not be highly reliable in many cases (Ranucci & Lee, 2019). In other words, the HEADstrong Foundation might benefit significantly by utilizing the existing reserve funds to create more reliable sources of income.
The first step toward financial independence was the opening of online merchandise sales, which, similar to donations, has a voluntary nature but stimulates the business development of the organization. Increasing the number of fund sources is generally associated with the scaling up of the services, which means more events and more impact. Due to the mission-centered nature of NPOs, it is particularly important to maintain financial balance (Lu et al., 2019). Another method to improve economic independence is crowdfunding, which, unlike popular opinion, is also a viable choice for older organizations (Alexiou et al., 2020). The HEADstrong Foundation has been helping cancer patients for more than fifteen years and cannot be considered a young group. Nevertheless, the research demonstrates that crowdfunding is an attractive source of additional funding, and older established companies have zero to few risks to attempt this approach (Alexiou et al., 2020). The benefits of the crowdfunding campaign depend on the organization’s mission, the values of the crowd, and other emotional factors, which can only boost the company’s reputation (Alexiou et al., 2020). Therefore, the HEADstrong Foundation might consider this approach to increase its financial independence.
Leadership Approach to Volunteers
The second obstacle to development concerns volunteers, who are absolutely necessary for each non-profit organization. As mentioned before, the dropout rates of volunteers are high among all countries and activities. Nevertheless, it is possible to increase the retention rate by choosing an appropriate leadership strategy. For instance, the research has demonstrated that transformational leadership might improve the organizational commitment, satisfaction, and role identity of volunteers (Almas et al., 2020). The framework is particularly effective in combination with group meetings and training, where leaders would talk to volunteers and explain the organization’s mission (Almas et al., 2020). Ultimately, the leadership model is highly significant to minimize the dropout rates among volunteers.
Consequently, it is critical to maintain a proper balance between the motivation and expected efforts of volunteers. There is a large number of strategies that might improve the retention rate; nevertheless, it is still free labor, and intense work might scare the potential assistants (Costello et al., 2020). From these considerations, public service motivation (PSM) theory is an efficient method to balance time, efforts, and motivation (Costello et al., 2020). It emphasizes rational (policy-making), norm-based (social justice and good cause), and affective (compassion) factors to appeal to volunteers and improve the retention rate (Costello et al., 2020). Therefore, it might be possible to develop effective business and expansion strategies by utilizing the principles of PSM.
Overall, the mentioned recommendations concern the two major areas of NPOs development – finances and volunteers. The Resource Dependence Theory (RDT) states that these two factors directly affect the sustainability and management potential of the organization (Ilyas et al., 2020). Alongside the mentioned recommendations, RDT emphasizes the importance of information disclosure, building trust, and diversification for financial well-being (Ilyas et al., 2020). Concerning volunteer engagement, RDT underlines flexibility, emotional support, increased interaction, and fellowship as supporting factors (Ilyas et al., 2020). Ultimately, while the primary recommendations of the current work are improving financial independence and adapting leadership strategies, there is a large number of potential ways to improve the organizational development.
The HEADstrong Foundation is a non-profit organization that has helped more than 17 000 patients in their struggles against cancer and lymphoma diseases. Throughout the years, the group has been devoted to its mission and organized a large number of charity events and sports activities to increase the awareness of the public concerning cancer. Nevertheless, there are certain challenges to the development of each NPO, such as lack of financial independence and high volunteer turnover rate. The primary recommendations for the HEADstrong Foundation to solve these problems are crowdfunding expansion and the adoption of effective leadership strategies. Consequently, such factors as flexibility and emotional support might enhance the overall volunteer engagement, while building trust and diversification might improve the financial well-being. Ultimately, while the HEADstrong Foundation is a successful non-profit organization, these recommendations might assist it in the expansion and scaling up of the services.
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