Monday, December 22, 2008

Thoughts while driving.....

I picked up my daughter Caitlin at college Saturday. She's leaving for 6 months abroad in Auckland in just over a week, so we had to bring all her stuff home. That required me driving 1,600 miles up to Boston and back mostly in snow. The benefit of all of this was I got 14 hours in the car with her to really catch up....I rarely get that amount of one on one time with her any more. So, it was great, and the 800 miles on the home leg zipped by.

On the other hand, going up, I was racing the storm, and alone with my Ipod, so I had time to think. As a nonprofit nerd, my thoughts turned to the sector. As a 56 year old, my thoughts turned to what I want to do for the sector before I retire in 5-10 years. Of course, all my aspirations for nonprofits are tempered to a great degree by our current economic that I believe will extend well into the next decade.

But, here's what I want the sector to look like by the time I leave:

1. I want nonprofits to always focus first on mission, but use all the business tools they can to get the most mission out the door in the most effective, efficient way possible.

2. I want the sector to embrace (not accept, but embrace) technology in a way that accelerates mission but does not exclude people. There is so, so much that tech can do to improve and expand the way we solve problems.

3. I want funders of all kinds (foundations, corporations, government, individuals) to accept the fact that when they fund nonprofits, they purchase services, they don't get to control the nonprofits in ways that don't benefit the mission. This means much less silly micromanagement.

4. I want everyone to be more transparent, both inside and outside their organizations. This means nonprofits with their staff, nonprofits with their communities and also foundations and government with all of us.

5. I either want foundations and government to stop worrying about administrative percentages or start living by a 10-12% admin share themselves.

6. I want the media to stop assuming that the nonprofit sector is rife with corruption and look at the facts.

7. I want nonprofits to embrace the best staff involvement practices: we'll get more from our people if we just ask.

8. Finally, I want society to acknowledge that what the sector does is worth paying a fair price for, and to realize that asking people who are good at arts, or human services, or housing, or environmental protection to also be good at begging for every dollar is counterintuitive and unproductive.

What would you add to this list?


Amy Kincaid said...

Nice. Thanks for this, Peter. Keep up the good work, and keep the books coming.

Peter Brinckerhoff said...

Amy-you are most welcome. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. And, a third edition of Mission-Based Management is on the way.