The Enneagram in Non-profits

The purpose of nonprofit (charitable, religious, health, human services, culture, and education) organizations is to provide services of a public good versus a private interest. The industry, with combined annual revenues of more than $1 trillion and consisting of 20 million organizations worldwide and 1.5 million in the US, is highly fragmented. Although large organizations represent 6% of the industry and 80% of revenues, most are small organizations operating on a shoestring budget.

Labor-intensive, nonprofit organizations often rely heavily on volunteers to substitute partly or completely for paid staff. Viability depends on managing relationships with multiple stakeholders, such as board, volunteers, funding sources, the community, and clients. In addition, most of these organizations provide direct client services and often do so for clients under duress. That is why not-for-profits, such as mental health and drug rehabilitation centers, prison and post-prison projects, battered women's shelters, arts organizations, and religious-based or community service-based nonprofits, find the Enneagram so valuable.

This sector is naturally receptive to the Enneagram because of its emphasis on relationships and social services. Some applications include organizational development, leadership development, team building, conflict resolution, and effective communications with stakeholders. As part of their mission, organizations support Enneagram workshops to further outreach or to foster personal development and self-awareness. Feedback suggests these efforts provide greater understanding and acceptance of individual differences in the wider community.

Enneagram familiarity is particularly helpful in addressing the unique challenges of nonprofits, such as volunteer management, donor development, staff burnout, and donor fatigue. An introduction to the Enneagram has been helpful in the orientation of board members and managing relationships with the executive directors. Also gaining attention is succession planning, where an understanding of the Enneagram permits an organization to refine its strategic plan and rethink its organizational structure, especially when a strong executive director leaves and the organization must adapt.

Industry trends toward greater emphasis on efficiency, accountability, sustainability, and performance-based (i.e., measurable) results in the nonprofit sector create a role for the Enneagram as a change agent while the private and nonprofit sector compete to provide services formerly provided solely by nonprofits.



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As a coach, trainer, and consultant, Gail has a broad range of experience working with businesses for over 30 years - from small entrepreneurial firms to Fortune 100 corporations. A former vice-president and general counsel of a BellSouth subsidiary, she combines her legal experience with her knowledge of the Enneagram to help corporate leaders, small business owners, and nonprofit directors understand both the need and the methods for putting systems and processes in place that build engaged and successful teams and ensure long-term sustainability.

Gail is a certified Enneagram teacher in the Palmer Daniels program (EPTP), graduate of the Enneagram in Business Leadership Train-the-Trainer and Consulting with the Enneagram programs, and a presenter on how to use the Enneagram in negotiations and persuasion at International Enneagram Association (IEA) conferences. Gail conducts Enneagram workshops and coaches small business owners and women lawyers to use the Enneagram to develop their leadership potential and work effectively with their teams. She is the former chair of the Women Lawyers Section of the Birmingham Bar and currently serves as treasurer of the IEA.