Some thoughts from The EHL Consulting Group:
As we begin 2009, we pause to look back briefly on 2008 and to make some suggestions and observations regarding the US philanthropic marketplace. The most important (and most difficult) recommendation requires you to, perhaps, be counter-intuitive…invest your energies into seeking out opportunities and not bemoaning the situation.
Four Important Lessons Learned
The combination of the severe recession, coupled with the Bernard Madoff debacle, has made headlines and brought fear and deep anxiety throughout the non-profit sector. There are a number of critical lessons that should guide us all going forward:
- Few individuals or organizations are immune from current difficulties – Reflect compassion and a commitment to move ahead strategically to maintain your place and position in the community.
- If it seems too good to be true, it probably is – While this may be interpreted as an effort in stating the obvious, avarice often impacts negatively on financial decisions. Through time, people have repeatedly been hurt responding quickly to unrealistic promises proffered by those with dishonest and greedy intentions. Organizations and individuals who followed a man portraying himself as a “pied piper” knowing how to beat the markets truly paid a hefty price! And the entire story has yet to be told…
- There are no shortcuts – Proper financial oversight is an important element of a strong non-profit. While donors drive and propel campaigns, non-profit organizations should commit to investment strategies that reflect thoughtful and conservative institutional management. Too many stories coming out of the Madoff mess relate caution being “thrown to the wind” in pursuit of a fleeting promise of an inflated return.
- Keep your Case for Giving simple, relevant and impactful – Organizations that frame and present a compelling Case for Giving are in a far stronger position to continue receiving financial support from existing and new (or lapsed) donors. Those non-profits that feel guilty, hold back or hesitate to promote their “selling propositions” in terms of how they impact on the lives of people will face reductions in support that will take years to recoup.
We recommend that every non-profit honestly assess its strengths and its challenges and position itself in the philanthropic marketplace to attract the type of charitable support that they require.