Posted by Sharon Danosky | Posted in The Philanthropy Therapist | Posted on 13-01-2011
I’m sitting here with a cozy fire going, contemplating the fact that over two feet of new snow has just fallen – on top of over a foot of snow that fell last week. The landscape is transformed, with funny white mounds reshaping everything and a quiet hush that seems to have fallen over the setting. I was supposed to be in Florida – speaking to a group of non-profit executives. But, alas – that was not meant to be. And I am writing this blog from snowy, cold, New England.
Mother Nature is in charge. In fact, there are few times we are really ever in charge of events … just try to plan a trip in the winter and you will learn that very quickly. Change, catastrophes and events beyond our control will always dominate our lives. What matters is how we respond.
No one knows that fact better than non-profit executives. Economic downturns, lack of government funding, forced reductions in staffing, increased need for services: these are the realities non-profit leaders face every day. Sometimes there are a few good years when providing services aren’t as challenging … but 2008 was certainly a turning point.
I have always believed that philanthropy can provide a safety net – because it gives non-profits the opportunity to better control their own destiny and to reach more people and perhaps spread the potential for loss and risk over a greater platform. But, even from a philanthropic perspective … you need to be flexible to adapt to changes that come along.
For those whose responsibility it is to raise funds, you know all to well that there are no sure things. Donors change their minds; fall in love with another charity or simply cannot continue giving at a rate they were accustomed to. You plan a major event and the keynote speaker cannot make it, you experience a snow storm. The key is to have a back-up plan, have enough irons in the fire and be able to adapt.
Sometimes, though you can’t see the forest for the white-out. That’s the time to bring in a consultant to help you assess where you are – prepare that plan and help to identify the options that are out there.
After all, you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust the sail. Whoops – sailing analogy after a snowstorm, mixing my metaphors. Hey – I’m looking at over 40” of snow with more expected this weekend. I’m tired of winter. Ready for change.