What Do We Mean When We Say Partner?

When social change efforts use the word “partner” to describe their funders, saying things like, “We are seeking a partner to help fund this effort,” what does that say about us as organizations? And what does it say about our efforts to create a community that is whole and vibrant and healthy? Words contain so … Read more

Philanthropy's Highest Potential is to Disappear

Philanthropy may be defined ideally as “love of humanity,” but philanthropy as we know it is a perfect microcosm of our modern American capitalist economy: There is fierce competition for scarce resources (“This rejection of your proposal is not a reflection of the worthiness of your project.”). A person’s worth is determined by their wealth … Read more

There’s Plenty of Money, So Start Some Good.

“Money is a limited resource. We can’t fund everyone.” Those few words encompass the most insidious assumption at the heart of competitive grant-making and competitive fundraising. The “reality” created by that assumption is the source of all the fear and the overwhelming sense of scarcity that undergird this work, everywhere around the world. For years … Read more

Letter from Palestine #3

I am so pleased to share another letter from Nora Lester Murad. (To read this series from the beginning, please click here.) Nora lives with her husband and three daughters in Israeli controlled East Jerusalem, in Palestine’s West Bank. In addition to her consulting work to NGOs, Nora has co-founded Dalia Association, a community foundation … Read more

The Collaboration Prize is Self-Defeating

My heart just sank when I saw that the Lodestar Foundation is offering a $250,000 prize for the most worthy collaboration. Yes, it sank. Why does the sector that should know better continue to insist on treating organizational and sector-wide symptoms? If we know that symptoms-based approaches accomplish little more in our communities than sprinkle … Read more

Debunking "Accountability to Donors" – Finale

We accomplish what we hold ourselves accountable for. In wrapping up the past week’s rant about the issues related to Donor Accountability, I want to first share what triggered that rant. And then I want to share what we can do to hold ourselves accountable in a way that makes donors happy and, most importantly, … Read more

Debunking “Accountability to Donors” Part 6

Is the Donor Accountability movement correct? Should community organizations be aiming their primary accountability squarely at their donors? Having spent the week throwing grenades at that notion, today’s is the last argument I will make before wrapping up this subject tomorrow. (If you have not read the posts leading up to this one, you can … Read more

Debunking “Accountability to Donors” Part 5

As I have noted throughout this series, the notion that organizations are primarily accountable to their donors not only misdirects organizational focus, but it is fraught with logic holes large enough to comfortably house a family of four. In my posts today and tomorrow – the last posts before I wrap this up – I … Read more