Sunday, April 01, 2007

Baby steps towards a stronger sector

I'm most of the way through Joel Fleischman's book on foundations, and it's clear that he and Trent Stamp are preachers in the same crusade. Their emphasis is different in some ways and they certainly don't agree on tactics, but in broad strokes they have the same message: that the nongovernmental "civic sector" is a marvelous invention of which America has every right to be proud, and that if the sector doesn't do some serious growing up it will deservedly end up in history's dustbin. (As you can probably tell, I'm with them on all points.)

Independent Sector, which Fleischman cites as an example of promising new seriousness in the non-profit sector about things like transparency and mature governance practices, has been mostly snorted at by Stamp. He's seen the group's work on a set of new "Principles for Effective Practice" as being mostly window-dressing: too weak, and unlikely to ever change the behavior of the really bad non-profits.

I haven't agreed with him on that -- I think the voluntary principles being developed are an important step and would, if widely publicized and adopted by some sector heavyweights, have meaningful influence. Certainly they would be ignored by really weak and flatly-fraudulent non-profits, but that minority is not my primary concern. Well-meaning but poorly-run groups will be increasingly punished by the marketplace of better-informed contributors; meanwhile state attorneys general and the feds are waking up to the need for more serious pursuit of actual fraud and shady fundraising practices.

I'm more concerned with the great mass of well-intended non-profits that are organized and led no better than was true on average 20 or 40 years ago, which is simply not good enough. If "they mean well" is the only standard that this sector can ever meet then the (false, in my view) idea that "a just society would not need charity" might as well be true. In that case, why have this sector at all?

Stamp has just grudgingly come around to endorsing Independent Sector's proposal, for the fairly silly reason that he doesn't like being on the same list with others who have opposed it. Well, whatever -- what matters at this stage is not so much the specifics of this specific proposal, but the overall awakening which it hopefully represents and can help shape.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the end the revolutionary change that foundations will need to make is the ability to make small grants to a large number of successful leaders who are building long-term impact models. The current funding of large projects that are mostly hype has stunted the growth of the industry. Foundations have funded the wrong people thus valuable time and money has been lost. Gates with all of its resources is falling into the same errors....

I am President of Mission Movers a consulting firm from the US that is producing a capacity building report for foundations and nonprofits that deal with this issue. We just finished the initial draft of this capacity building report. I believe it has some ground-breaking ideas in it. It also challenges some core assumptions in the field today. I know you are very busy but because of your excellent work with nonprofits we are looking for feedback from you on the document and any case studies you may have that connect with any of the ideas. The base report is only 30 pages with a few extras. This document is still in draft format and we are looking for feedback and need your help in this matter. We are very hopeful that this document will provide a new framework for working with nonprofits. Discussion on the document is going on at www.nonprofitrules.wetapint.com The pdf for download of this document can be found at: http://nonprofitrules.com/Newrulescapacity1.pdf and is also attached. My email for contact is curtis at nonprofitrules.com

Many thanks in advance.....

Paul Botts said...

Thanks for the feedback, I'll give the report a read. Of course I'll need to see some evidence beyond anecdote to buy into a claim as sweeping as "he current funding of large projects that are mostly hype".

Paul Botts said...

I'm sorry to say that I haven't gotten past the first couple of pages of the report. I understand what you're trying to accomplish, and couldn't be more supportive of the objective of holding this sector to higher standards of focus and productivity. But I'm not seeing anything particularly thoughtful or original in that regard, and the problem statement at the start is just so wildly removed from reality as to be offputting. Thanks for thinking of me, and good luck with your efforts.

Anonymous said...

miley cyrus nude [url=http://crystal-liu.com/forums/index.php?showuser=1113]miley cyrus nude[/url] miley cyrus sex tape [url=http://forum.ondertitel.com/index.php?showuser=74503]miley cyrus sex tape[/url] miley cyrus nude [url=http://stabilo.forumsunlimited.com/index.php?showuser=799]miley cyrus nude[/url] miley cyrus nude [url=http://ragga-jungle.com/user/15036-vebsterd]miley cyrus nude[/url] kim kardashian nude [url=http://forums.quark.com/members/vebsterd.aspx]kim kardashian nude[/url]