Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Susan Boyle Nonprofits

The Susan Boyle phenomenon has been interesting. Here is someone who some have described as an individual who is not what one reporter called "magazine cover" material getting her chance and really shining. Now I am not sure who is magazine cover material or that we should be a world that titles people in such a way, but I do know that Susan Boyle is a great singer and when she was able to showcase her talent, she did so admirably. I also respect that she fought off the ridiculous requests for her to get a make-over, stating she was happy how she looked.

Now, I can't help it but I frequently find how popular media stories like this are equal to the nonprofit world and I see one glaring me in the face. It relates to the work to obtain funder relationships. I often see the work to woo funders similiar to American Idol or other reality show based on pomp and circumstance. Groups with glitz and buzz are often over resourced while the organizations with talent but not as flashy, the Susan Boyle Nonprofits (SBNP), are often overlooked. When the SBNP's get their chance, they almost surely shine. Also, they are often asked to become glitzy once they are revealed. Most have trouble doing what Susan Boyle did and turning this request down. They almost always take the money and the growth.

A friend told me of a glitzy and over-resourced organization that is much pomp and circumstance that has recently lost some funding. Some funders have teamed together to make sure this group had money while many Susan Boyle-like groups nearby continued to struggle to get their chance.

As I think of this, I have a big worry about Susan Boyle and the situation I listed above. I worry that Susan Boyle gets an agent, gets big and loses the "thing" that made her great. I also worry about this with nonprofits in a similar stage. SBNPs often want the agent and the fame but yet in the end lose their voice. Funders often become the agent to Susan Boyle Nonprofits and then when the voice is gone, so are they.

Let's hope Susan Boyle stays the way she is, a beautiful person with a beautiful voice. Fine just the way she is.

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