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Compact case
Sequel
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Reference no. HKS1517.1
Published by: Harvard Kennedy School
Published in: 1999
Length: 1 pages

Abstract

Should a successful, well-known nonprofit organization adopt a promising new program that, though clearly related to its traditional activities, exposes the organization to significant risks? This is the essential question faced by the Prison Fellowship Ministries Inc., of Reston, Virginia, a 20-year-old organization founded to provide religious counseling and instruction to prison inmates. In 1995, the organization is urged by one of its top executives to be more ambitious in its scale, specifically by adopting an approach, developed in Brazil, in which a Christian religious group had a central role in the management of a prison and seemed to have drastically reduced recidivism among inmates. The possibility of far greater Prison Fellowship involvement in prison attracts many in the organization├╣but worries many others. There is concern that such an effort might drain financial support from its ongoing programs, overtax its base of volunteers, and in the context of the United States, be exposed to Constitutional challenge. The case allows for discussion of how a nonprofit should make a major strategic decision.

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Abstract

Should a successful, well-known nonprofit organization adopt a promising new program that, though clearly related to its traditional activities, exposes the organization to significant risks? This is the essential question faced by the Prison Fellowship Ministries Inc., of Reston, Virginia, a 20-year-old organization founded to provide religious counseling and instruction to prison inmates. In 1995, the organization is urged by one of its top executives to be more ambitious in its scale, specifically by adopting an approach, developed in Brazil, in which a Christian religious group had a central role in the management of a prison and seemed to have drastically reduced recidivism among inmates. The possibility of far greater Prison Fellowship involvement in prison attracts many in the organization├╣but worries many others. There is concern that such an effort might drain financial support from its ongoing programs, overtax its base of volunteers, and in the context of the United States, be exposed to Constitutional challenge. The case allows for discussion of how a nonprofit should make a major strategic decision.

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