By Richard Marker [Caveat: This post contains both a philanthropy and political point of view.] Being a funder is a power position. The more money one gives or can give, the more power. Whether that is the way it should be is beside the point. The NGO/NFP sector is existentially dependent on the largesse and beneficence of those with money. The challenge of how to accept, mitigate, reject the power of those funders is real and all … [Read more...] about Transparency and Self-Dealing Matter
By Richard Marker Venture capitalists and innovation funders share a motivation: to discover and cultivate a successful startup that makes a big difference. In VC, the payoff is a big payday. In philanthropy innovation, the payoff is a big “impact,” however elusive the definition of impact may be. Those of us who have been on the funder side of innovation know that it is high risk. Evidence is always derivative since the idea or project has … [Read more...] about In Innovation Funding, the Second Funder Makes All the Difference
By Richard Marker A few years ago, a noted professor of History of Education invited me to speak to a graduate class about my role over the course of my career in the creation of a number of interesting and cutting edge nonprofit organizations. With the vantage of a rear view mirror, he noted, whether by serendipity or opportunity, I had been involved at an early stage with a surprising number of well-known and often honored ones. In inviting … [Read more...] about Is Non-Profit Impermanence A Synonym for Failure?
By Richard Marker That is a surprise, you say. Don’t you usually help funders develop a focus for their funding? Don’t you help them understand how a good strategy helps develop an approach that helps philanthropists and foundations know when to say “no,” and when to say “yes”? Doesn’t a funding mission help determine whether we are achieving the impact we want our funding investments to achieve? Wouldn’t you advise that “mission creep” … [Read more...] about A Little Mission Creep Can Be a Good Thing
My recent post “From Overhead to Infrastructure to Structure” has elicited a very flattering amount of attention, but also some questions and challenges. To all, thanks. The questions and challenges fit into two categories: One set was from those on the nonprofit side of the table who wondered how they could convince their funders of the indispensability of infrastructure support as a superior funding strategy. They felt that, even though I … [Read more...] about From Infrastructure to Structure – Part 2: Some Illustrations