Tapping philanthropy’s true value

Consumed with managing their survival in what can be a brutally competitive charitable marketplace, nonprofits are failing to lead or thrive.

Nonprofits should be addressing urgent needs, attacking their roots and brokering change by unleashing the power of giving and collaboration.

Instead, while parading as servant leaders and team players, many nonprofits practice bare-knuckle brawling, clawing for turf and knee-capping any and all rivals or potential rivals.

Enabling the failure of leadership that infects the nonprofit world are foundations that, while preaching innovation and collaboration, continue to reward nonprofits that talk a great game about the need for collaborating but in practice lack the vision and courage to truly work together to make change happen.

Nonprofits and foundations need to change the way they do business.

Facing an exodus of nonprofit executives who are overworked, underpaid, starved of board support and opportunities for career advancement, and increasingly nearing retirement, the charitable world must make a massive investment in developing existing leaders and identifying, recruiting and cultivating new leaders.

Nonprofits need leaders who not only can manage their organizations effectively but also can provide the vision to see ahead, seeing the crucial connection between organizational success and the partnerships needed to address larger social problems.

Which nonprofits, and which nonprofit leaders, are willing to leave their egos and organizational power-grubbing out of the search for shared solutions to the urgent problems our communities face?

And which nonprofits have the vision and courage to create partnerships in which they and all their partners truly are willing to make the sacrifices and build the strategic alliances and market-driven solutions critical to making our communities better places to live and work?

In the charitable marketplace, those with wealth and power are quick to preach the gospel of collaboration but slow to give up any of that wealth and power in the interest of working together to address common problems.

Fixing what is wrong in our communities will require fixing what is wrong in the charitable marketplace, and that will take leaders honest enough and brave enough to collaborate productively while competing vigorously, all the while staying true to the value and power both of collaboration and competition.

2 responses

  1. Goodness Todd. . .You’re feeling a little cranky today. The key is collaboration, collaboration, collaboration. Not fake partnerships and I-got-mine philanthropy. As long as the fundraising PROFESSION uses terms like target (what are donors–deer?)and adopt the practices of for profit salespeople, we are doomed to a competitive cycle that values the annual fund over solutions to cultural conditions.

  2. Here’s a suggestion for a joint effort by all non-profits in a given community – the support of workplace giving by designation through payroll deduction.Public Service annoucements could be made on behalf of the entire non-profit community, with a message along the lines of, “Whatever causes and charities you care about, giving through workplace giving is one of the best ways to support your community.” Whether you are in the private sector, federal, state or local government we, the non-profit community of ABC region thank you in advance for your support.For the non-profit community it will help even out cashflow issues, and the only way such a message will get on the air is if it is for the entire sector, not just an individual non-profit.Bill HuddlestonCFC ExpertFairfax, Virginia

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