|What Works |
Each edition of this newsletter contains a section I call "What Works."
Most editions include sections from one of two longer articles I'm writing. Why Organizations Thrive and Why Organizations Go Off Course detail lessons I learned while growing the Oregon League of Conservation Voters (OLCV), buttressed by my observations of dozens of other groups both in Oregon and across the country.
Collectively, I believe these lessons are a very useful set of principles that any Executive Director can use to improve their organization's capacity to fulfill its mission.
This month I have a new lesson in Why Organizations Go Off Course.
Lesson Two is: Don't Chase Money or Other Shiny Objects.
Particularly for small groups trying to get to the next level, the allure of money or other opportunities is extreme. Anything that can generate more activity is arguably a step towards growing the organization. And when you're struggling to pay staff, any money seems like it's worth chasing
Nonetheless, in my experience groups that chase money or other opportunities that are either off-topic or off-plan almost always come out behind in the end, compared to groups that stay focused on their own plan and relentlessly work to fund it.
Let me start by giving you an example from the real world.
I recently spoke with an Executive Director who was having their organization round up its grassroots supporters to generate online votes to have the organization selected to win a small grant. (Small in this context was $2,000, about 1% of the organization's budget if they were to receive it).
What was odd to me is that the grant they were seeking was to do work that wasn't part of their strategic plan. Indeed, it wasn't even something that fit within the group's core niche/role. It wasn't just low priority and therefore not in the plan - it was off the radar screen entirely until the opportunity emerged to win the grant.
When I asked the Executive Director why they were nonetheless pursuing it, their response was: the dollars flowing in would be twice what it would actually cost to implement (so they'd net $1,000) and it would get the group on the radar screen of a foundation, opening the door to larger future grants.
I pondered this for a few minutes and my reaction was - that's not right.
Read the full article online.
Download the PDF.