Sunday, May 17, 2009

Quick Post: Cool Article

Friend and great consultant, John Corwin, has posted an article about his findings in the Interim Executive Director field. Here is the link:

Happy reading.....

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Safety School Notion

I am a little steamed and it is a common subject that is getting my blood boiling. It seems like an everyday occurrence that I see an article the discusses the move for for-profit professionals into the nonprofit world. Now, I am in favor on corporate-nonprofit partnerships, in fact I train on it and have developed models for it that are in place in various communities around the United States.

My blood pressure is high because at where the articles state the executives are looking to be placed. I do not believe a for-profit executive equals a nonprofit executive, or even worse and where many of the articles suggest, a for-profit executive equals more than a nonprofit executive and therefore the nonprofit should be so lucky. Both ideas are severely flawed, although I am in favor of the movement for those to learn about the DNA of nonprofit organizations.

The assumptions that get my hairs crossed are:

  • The notion that anyone with five years experience and an MBA can run a nonprofit. I have been in this work for over 20 years and believe me I need all of that experience to do what I do. This insults our sector.
  • That 3-6 month crash training will amply get someone up to speed on becoming a nonprofit executive. Yes, understanding the flow of programs that serve our most at-risk populations only requires this amount of time. This is also an insult.
  • The "social entrepreneurship" movement often pushes the idea of a young-MBA type coming in an starting a new program that will replace the old, tired work of those who worked on the issue before. I see more innovation in the work of these everyday heroes than I have seen by these TIME magazine individuals everyday. In fact, these individuals are the webbing that is saving this country during these hard times.
  • Foundations and funders are often often so swayed by the jargon of these groups and individuals that the older groups lose out without much inspection other than the words "new" and creative strategies to create buzz.
  • The same individuals who may have occupied the board rooms of nonprofits and have led many of these nonprofits down terrible paths are now the same hiring pools that are being drawn upon to hire for these nonprofits. I have the first question of an interview: "tell me your experiences on a board and ....(Question 2,3,4)....This should be a good FIRST start.
In all of this I feel like the non-profit sector is being reserved as the "Safety School" for those who have been so lucky to be in the other sectors, while it is those in the other sectors who have done so much damage. If they have respect for the sector, let them work from the ground up. When they get to the top, they will better for it and so will the organization.