Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The terrifying, inspiring future for non-profits

Conferences are all the rage these days - we all endure the tweets. I finally went to one last week, the Board Source Leadership Forum about Governing Towards the Future (1 tweet and two retweets). It was great.

The first day scared the crap out of me and the second day inspired me, which I suppose was by design. I understand now in technicolor the ongoing funding issues we will have - probably for the next 15 years - at a time when our services, throughout the entire sector, will be in escalating demand. Add that to the already difficult task of operating a non-profit and delivering the mission and I was left thinking that I would never have the patience to undertake a full career move into the space.

But the second day fired me up. We can do this. Individual giving is bigger and better than I ever appreciated (thank you to everyone who supports non profits! You make amazing things happen!), strategic partnerships have huge potential to help deliver the mission in new extra-organizational ways, and new ventures are changing the way we approach, fund and deliver our missions. I left the second day thinking that I would never not participate in the non-profit sector, either as a donor, a volunteer or a board member - or all three. It's taken me a while to really absorb the full picture, but as I finally "get it" I realize how incredibly rewarding (and yes, exhausting) it can be to serve on a board, and help to steward an organization through tough times.

Aside from churches and universities (where most of the money goes), what organizations do you support? What makes you give? What would make you give more?

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