Anyone in the not-for-profit sector knows that things don't always go according to plan. Sometimes you're scrambling for funding, and other times (if you're fortunate), you have a lot of freedom to implement new programs. If you've missed a milestone, don't fixate on it. Instead, find ways to adapt and realign your strategy.
Is all this cause marketing too much to care about? Everywhere you turn today, there's another worthy cause trying to get your attention, time, and in all likelihood, money. As a result of the increased marketing noise, I'd argue we've become anesthetized to all the pleas.
Here are the questions I would ask before joining a not-for-profit board. It is important to scrutinize the organization for professionalism and fit, particularly for NFPs where resources can be stretched, as your reputation and even financial assets may be at risk. These questions try to address the downside of joining the wrong board.
Last March I had the privilege of co-founding Skate To Great out of a conversation I had with a friend about how every kid should have the opportunity to skate in Canada. I've learnt a lot along the way. The idea, bring industry bodies in hockey and skating together with children's charities and corporate partners so regardless of economic or physical circumstances, any kid who wants the opportunity to skate, gets it.
Innoversity is a not-for-profit organization that has spent the past 13 years struggling with some success "to create opportunities for cultural minority, Aboriginal and disabled Canadians to actively engage with, and be reflected within, key social sectors and institutions." That's institution-speak for fighting racism and all the other isms that still stain our society, particularly our media.
We fuelled a belief in our capitalist society that you can't make a profit without harming the world -- and that the only people who can do good for our world don't make a profit. "Giving back" has become one of the most fashionable lines -- as if to imply that we really must have stolen something as we were making a profit!
The cynics in the not-for-profit space would argue that profit and "good" cannot possibly be synonymous. But has the obsession with "giving back" made any difference at all? The successful businesses of the future will be the ones that figure out how to maximize profit as they maximize their positive impact on the world.