Multi-service organizations (MSOs)—nonprofits that provide services across multiple categories such as substance abuse, housing, and education—tend to be organized around the services they deliver, not the needs of the clients they serve.

Read more about multi-service organizations on Giving Compass

To realize their full potential, MSOs have to shift from being "service-centric" to being "client-centric." Being client-centric means working with a client to set long-term goals, understanding what services the client will need to reach those outcomes, providing those services in a coordinated way, and following up to make sure the client achieves their goals.

Why haven’t more MSOs made the shift to being client-centric? A set of reinforcing strategic, financial, and operational barriers stand in the way. Overcoming those barriers requires a tremendous act of leadership.

As one nonprofit CEO who has made this journey commented, “Nonprofit leaders who try to run client-centric, multi-service organizations are paddling upstream all the way, against a strong current of funding trends and the tendency of services to become insular, not to mention all the attention that single-service organizations have been getting.”

But MSOs cannot make these changes alone. As we have seen, government and private funders also have an important role to play in helping these organizations increase their social impact.

Among the steps that funders could take, three that we believe would be especially useful are focusing as much effort on the outcomes they desire to see as on adherence to a specific service model; providing longer-term support; and investing in the integration roles, processes, and performance measurement systems that too often are considered overhead.

MSOs have the potential to utilize a unique vantage point: As the providers and coordinators of a range of services, they can develop a deep and comprehensive understanding of their clients’ needs, context, and community. With a concerted effort to become client-centric, and critical help from forward-thinking funders, MSOs can realize their full potential to turn that vantage point into real and lasting social change.

Read the source article at The Bridgespan Group

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