There is often the complaint that we have too many nonprofits in our sector. I don’t necessarily agree, and in fact I think that when it comes to some types of nonprofits, such as certain ones led by marginalized communities, we may need MORE, not fewer. But that’s for a future conversation.

However, I do think we have organizations that are floating aimlessly around the sector in a state of limbo. Over the past few months, I’ve heard at least two stories of these orgs that are holding on for dear life, and not for the usual “holding on for dear life” that most nonprofits do as par for the course. These orgs have missions that were once vital, but as needs change, or as other organizations overtake them in effectiveness, or both, they find themselves in denial about their own effectiveness and relevance. They become “zombie missions.” This usually leads to a lack of direction and purpose, perpetual morale issues, and constant staff turnover.

And it is sad, because these orgs have usually done important work; they do not deserve this limbo-like state of existence. Here are things we should consider:

  • We need to let go of the idea that all nonprofits (and foundations) need to exist indefinitely.
  • We need to constantly examine whether our mission is still relevant.
  • We need to consider whether other organizations are more effective.
  • We need to be honest about whether the org’s existence is tied to individuals’ egos.
  • We need to let go of the idea that shutting down equates to failure.
  • We need more support to guide nonprofits in closing down.

Read the full article about organizations that should close by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.