The crisis for Australian charities is one of identity. They are in crisis because so many of them do not know who they are and they do not know why they are doing what they are doing. And what is sad is that many do not even understand the concept, according to Stephen Judd, Anne Robinson and Felicity Errington in their book Driven by Purpose: Charities that Make the Difference.
The book contrasts charities which have remained true to their original purposes with charities which have allowed their mission to drift until it is no longer clear what that mission is. According to the authors, Australian governments have historically outsourced much of their social welfare programs to existing charities, so that the charities have been pressured to mould themselves into whatever shape fits the government policies of the day, and the result is that the charities have lost their own distinct identities and their original supporter bases.
Part 1 of the book describes how charities have gone astray, and Part 2 describes how they can recover their identities by becoming purpose-driven, rather than money-driven or government-driven. A proactive charity needs a purpose-driven strategy, with a purpose-driven board, purpose-driven leadership, an engaged workforce and a healthy relationship with its community.
Some of the chapters seem to be a few years out of date, but the references to the Australian not-for-profit environment is otherwise quite accurate. Most of the content will be relevant to non-profit organisations in other countries. In my view this is a very interesting and helpful book.