The Case for Optimism

Matt and recently I had the pleasure to record an interview for The University of San Diego’s annual Nonprofit Governance Symposium, which, for the past 17 years, has brought together an outsanding and diverse group of nonprofit leaders to share best practices, network, and learn from their collective wisdom and experience.

For those who would like the cliff notes, here are just a few:

  • Nonprofits and their boards are re-examining their historical practices, replacing what doesn’t work with new sources of revenue
  • As mentioned in an earlier blog (All Hands on Deck) organizations are developing a tremendous sense of teamwork in confronting the crisis, and their boards have a much deeper knowledge of the organization’s operations. Nonprofits are, out of necessity, learning about and deploying the skills available in their boards. (Bored Boards no More). Everyone is much better informed and engaged. As Rohm Emanual (2008) and Winston Churchill (1940’s) said, “Never let a Good Crisis go to Waste”
  • Many organizations are faced being forced to replace historical funding practices, leading them to learn, and embrace, the tsunami of new capital that is pouring into the sector from socially responsible investing (now 1/3 of all investing activity, and growing quickly). Concurrently, they are learning new skills, such as using what we call “evaluation hacks” inherent in new financing techniques, like impact financing, to replace last century’s methods of evaluating impact with costly and time-consuming studies that are out of date before they are finished. And along with these trends, the rise of “Wall Street for the Third Sector” – traditional and non-traditional financial institutions who are following this incredible demand with an ever-increasing range of products and services.
  • No longer unable to “do it all” np’s are seeking to maximize their efforts in what they do best, and banding together in “vituous ecosystems” with others, each contributing part of the solution to alleviating some of our most swampy problems.
  • The resetting of the “Golden Rule”, (those that have the gold rule) to “we’re in this together” being driven by the practice of Trust Based Grantmaking by funders seeking to invest in grantees to build bridges to sustainable funding models instead of “piers” leaving the grantees stranded when the funding dries up.
  • The (hopefully) death of the dreaded “overhead myth” (RIP).
  • The development of the 4th sector – the blending of the 3 sectors with new structures/models, like social entrepreneurship, social enterprises, hybrid organizations, and “B” corps.

For those seeking a cure for insomnia and want to watch the video:

Makes me wish I was 50 years younger and just starting out …

meet David; David J. O’Brien

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