Thursday Dec 08, 2022

Why are nonprofits afraid of their own obsolescence?

Today’s podcast conversation offers a tough pill that I suspect some of us aren’t willing to swallow. Jim wants us to wrestle with the question of why today’s nonprofits are afraid of their own obsolescence. Instead of planning to eventually close, Jim wants to know why, for all intents and purposes, our organizations collectively make up what has become a growth industry. Are we willing to admit to ourselves that raising money for problems that never get solved is big business? 

Jim’s tough pill reminds me of the “Shirky Principle” which says that institutions will preserve a problem to which they are the solution. When we think about our fundraising efforts, have our donors become co-conspirators in ignoring root problems and not telling the truth? Are we placating our donors with easy-to-fund problems with which we believe they will be more comfortable and of which they can easily make sense? Jim wants to us to find the courage to solicit support for real solutions that are complex, difficult to understand, and might even make us all feel uncomfortable.

As always, we are especially grateful to our friends at CueBack for sponsoring The Fundraising Talent Podcast.


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