Giving Compass' Take:

•  Nell Edgington, writing for Social Velocity, discusses how to combat the nonprofit savior complex by forming meaningful partnerships and networks. 

• How can donors help nonprofit leaders build these networks rather than work to fix problems themselves? 

• Read about how to boost corporate support for your nonprofit. 

You know the Nonprofit Savior Complex, I know you do. It’s when a nonprofit leader begins to believe that she (and only she) cares enough, knows enough, or is enough to fix the massive problem she cares so deeply about.

The positive side to the Savior Complex is it compels people who see an injustice in the world to stand up and do something about it. It is their very belief that they can make a difference that compels them to act, and often to make positive social change.

To move away from the Savior Complex you have to reach out to others, to form partnerships, to build networks. So start by recognizing that others beyond you care just as much, are just as capable (maybe in different ways), and are worthy of your time to figure out how you can work together effectively. There is tremendous power in numbers.

So to overcome the Savior Complex, you can:

  • Pick up the phone and ask for real help from your funders and/or your board members
  • Map the marketplace in which your nonprofit operates to uncover other organizations or entities with whom you could ally for greater impact
  • Coach your staff to take on greater responsibility and leadership
  • Recognize, and demand, that you cannot be the sole fundraiser for your organization
  • Occasionally be a silent observer, instead of always being a fixer, when issues come up at staff or board meetings
  • Take more time away from the office (to do big picture planning or just to recharge)

You might be surprised as the leaders (within your organization, within your issue area, within your community) step up in the space you have finally left open.

Read the full article about the dangers of the nonprofit Savior Complex by Nell Edgington at Social Velocity.