CompassPoint Nonprofit Services in California and the Meyer Foundation here in Washington have released a follow-up study report as part of their “Daring to Lead” series.
This report raises some serious issues – issues that still amaze me that we continue to talk about them. More than 3,000 nonprofit executives participated in the survey from which the report was developed, and it is absolutely worth your time and attention.
Their big findings are some critical takeaways. Basically they are:
- Executive turnover is going to remain steady if not increase, and board are basically NOT prepared for that reality.
- The tried-and-true financial models for running a nonprofit are just not sustainable anymore, and that’s leading to serious frustration and anxiety.
- Even with all of these big problems out there, executives are staying resolved and energized!
Download this report. Read it. Share it with your board. Share it with your colleagues. Share it with your top funders. Start a conversation about what implications these findings have for your nonprofit.
Visit the new website www.daringtolead.org to learn more and to join in a broader conversation about leadership and its role in the nonprofit sector.
Feel free to share your thoughts here as well.
The Stanford Social Innovation Review and Bridgespan are again teaming up to continue the important conversation regarding the funding of “overhead” and other infrastructure costs at nonprofit organizations. (Remember my blog post from November, “Are You Starving?”)
The groups will be hosting a webinar discussion session featuring Bridgespan Group’s Don Howard and Ann Goggins Gregory, the original authors of the article back in August of 2009. This is a critical topic and should be central to the ongoing conversation funders must foster with their grantees.
To webinar will take place on Wednesday May 12 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m EDT. The cost is $49. To learn more or to register, follow this link: http://www.ssireview.org/events/
I know we are all very busy, but it’s important to take the time to read some of the really good research and commentary that’s out there. Organizations and individuals are putting out useful information and perspectives that can help us in our daily work, in our interactions with funders and donors, and in thinking strategically about our organizations.
Last week I read an amazing article in the Standford Social Innovation Review, “The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle.” I cannot recommend this enough, and it goes right to the heart of a critical issue nonprofits are facing today. Written by Ann Gregory and Don Howard from Bridgespan, it lays out the details of the vicious cycle that’s leaving nonprofits of all sizes starved for critical operating funds. This ongoing cycle of deprivation erodes organizations’ ability to function as well as to accomplish their mission. To break it down, here are the three components of this cycle:
- Nonprofits neglect infrastructure and misrepresent data (about expenditures)
- Funders have unrealistic expectations (regarding what it costs to run a nonprofit)
- Nonprofits feel pressure to conform (to the funders’ paradigm)
It is a chronic problem, and it is resulting in poorly performing organizations, burnt out staff and frustrated donors. It is also resulting in beneficiaries’ not getting the services that they deserve and need.
The solution lies equally with both nonprofits as well as with the funders. Nonprofits need to be courageous and tell their donors and funders what it really takes to accomplish their mission effectively. Nonprofits also need to resist the urge to “hide” fundraising and other administrative expenses. Funders, for their part, need to increase their interaction with their grantees. They need to work more closely with these organizations and increase their understanding of the real-life challenges (and expenses) of running an effective nonprofit. Funders need to challenge their old assumptions. Both funders and organizations need to collaborate more closely if the cycle is ever to be broken.
Check this article out. Use it to start a lively discussion at your next board meeting or staff meeting. Ask your donors how they evaluate these issues. Learn from this conversation.
It’s time to stop starving.
Grantmakers for Effective Organizations has released a survey of its members that explores philanthropic practice among its members. It points out some extrememly important issues, especially ones that surround the ongoing distance that exists between funders and nonprofit organizations. While some funders are beginning to make some efforts toward revising their grantmaking practices in ways that strengthen and enhance their relationships with nonprofits, many funders are still falling short of that goal. And many of those who are falling short are doing so even while acknowledging an understanding that things must change.
Grantmaking, the survey found, needs to get better in two areas: the money and the relationship.
Look for more comments to come in this regard. This is an important subject and worthy of lots of discussion.
In the meantime, visit GEO’s website to see a copy of this study. www.geofunders.org