Giving Compass’ Take:
• Nell Edgington at Social Velocity discusses the relationship between grantmakers and grantees, giving some advice on how nonprofit leaders can respond to the demands of a funder that may not align with one’s mission.
• The upshot is: Stay true to yourself. Gather evidence and make sure you articulate clearly why there’s a difference in strategy, but never be afraid to speak up for your beliefs.
It’s fairly common knowledge that in the nonprofit sector the relationship between funders and nonprofit leaders is often fraught. A power imbalance between those with the purse strings and those without can sometimes lead to poor decisions about a nonprofit’s future direction.
As a nonprofit leader, there are so many interested parties, so many stakeholders, so many voices telling you what is right and what is best. But the problem is that often those voices have inserted their, or their organization’s, self interest.
So when faced with a critical decision (and so many competing voices) how do you get clear about the right move for your nonprofit and then articulate that potentially unpopular decision to others?
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First, you have to get quiet. I’m serious — take a walk, turn off your devices, go out in the woods, whatever it takes. You simply cannot make a critical strategic decision amid the ringing phones, your staff’s questions, the constant ping of emails, or the lure of social media.
Ask yourself: “Which of the possible directions facing our nonprofit is most likely to increase our ability to achieve our desired outcomes?” If you haven’t yet articulated your nonprofit’s desired outcomes, then you need a Theory of Change, which is an excellent guiding document when facing critical strategic decisions like this.
Articulate (on paper if it’s helpful) why this is the right decision for your nonprofit’s mission and desired outcomes. Then convince a few board champions of your argument. Finally meet one-on-one with your funder, or whoever is trying to take you away from what you know to be the right path. In a clear, evidence-based, confident way explain the reasons behind the decision you have made.
Making the right decision for your organization might be terrifying at first — especially if you risk losing a key funder. But trust me, making the right decision will put your nonprofit in a much better place in the long run.
Read the full article about what to do when funders take a nonprofit off course by Nell Edgington at Social Velocity.
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