“Take no more than your fair share.”
That was one definition of sustainability offered by Margo Flood, Executive Director of the Environmenal Leadership Center and Chief Sustainability Official at the new student plenary at Warren Wilson College last week. (One of our sons transferred there this year).
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that one of my great concerns is the concentration of the resources of the nonprofit sector in the hands of so few organizations. Fewer than 6% of US institutions hold more than 80% of the income and assets of the sector.
I’ve asked the question before “How much is enough? Philanthropic greed”
That’s why Ms. Flood’s definition resonated so strongly with me. What would happen if all philanthropic institutions held themselves to the standard of taking no more than their fair share. Perhaps more philanthropy, bequests, grants and government funding would flow to organizations that are just as worthy (maybe even more so) but without the class connections and fund development capacity that accrue to many of the largest institutions.
Thanks to The Nonprofit Quarterly for using its national platform to continue to remind the top of the nonprofit support infrastructure that this is a complicated world and that the contributions of the little guys can’t be dismissed or ignored.
For it is that “common purpose” , the great “ambition” of societal change that really matters. We ask our clients to think deep, to challenge themselves to imagine how they can really make that change happen, not just by continuing what they’ve been been doing, but how, through innovation, partnership, best practices, and insight and courage, what it would take to make this change really happen.
Paul Schmitz of Public Allies offers a great overview of what nonprofits can learn from the Obama campaign in his article in NonProfit Quarterly. Paul cites five key attributes nonprofits can emulate: A powerful brand. A clear, measurable strategy.? Disciplined management. Face-to-face and online organizing. Youth leadership.
In my view, the most unexpected of these factors is the success (and recognition) of old- and new-fashioned community organizing. And this, I think, is where nonprofits badly need to pay attention. Read more