Tag Archives: benefactor

Talk to Me Like I’m 10: a Lesson in Long-Term Planning for Artistic Directors and Board Chairs

talk to me like I'm 10.jpg

Does long-term planning cause a rift between your artistic director and those other people?

Does it cause discord between your board chair and those other people?

Seen all the time among arts charities:  carefully (and successfully) executed annual development plans reduced to rubble after the board institutes a high-priced capital campaign.  The capital campaign sucks up all in its path, causing 5 years of stakeholder repair.  Indispensable Chair happy.  Staff leaves.

Artistic directors substituting their taste for vision and their personal and professional relationships for core values.  Idiosyncrasy obviates mission.  Indispensable AD happy.  Board leaves.

Both cases: company imperiled, stakeholders leaving.

Time to create an action plan, written at a 5th grade level.  Make it about impact rather than income.  Test the theory that your arts nonprofit is indispensable.  Make sure that your most important stakeholders don’t leave.

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Nonprofit Strategy: Managing Change is Hard; Managing Stasis is Impossible

I had breakfast with a trustee for an educational organization in a wealthy community within the last five years.

He bemoaned the fact that an über-wealthy benefactor was annually bailing them out with huge sums of money, but the organization was still always crying for cash.  And the company refused to upgrade its business practices.

“Why is she bailing them out?” I paraphrased.

“Because it’s her legacy to her kid,” he paraphrased.  “And let’s face it, for vanity.”

“And if it folds?”

“She won’t let it.”

“Are they always in a cash crisis?”

“Yes – and not only that, it’s just not serving all that many children.”

“And they can’t change the way they do business?”

“She won’t let them.”

Can’t change. Can’t succeed. Can’t close.

Bad for the organization?  Bad for the industry?  Bad for the community?

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