A funny thing happened to a nonprofit leader the other day.
A funder called to let the Executive Director know that their funding priority areas had changed again (Ugh!). So, the ED quickly moved into program development mode to see if she could adapt to keep this funder happy.
Not funny, right?
And it didn’t just happen the other day. Let’s face it, this happens every day in the nonprofit sector.
A funder — or a board member, a program partner, a policymaker — yells “JUMP!” and you react accordingly.
But here’s the thing — as a social change leader, your purpose on earth is to CREATE, not react. You are working to solve problems, make lives better, build bridges. You have a vision of creating something better than what already exists.
So when you relinquish your ability to create by reacting to someone else’s fickle will, you are separating yourself from your social change power.
And then everyone loses.
Let me give you an example.
How often have you been asked by a funder to do something that, if you were completely honest, is a waste of time? My guess is A LOT!
But what if the next time you field one of these frustrating requests from a funder, instead of mindlessly doing it, you create something new?
Call your funder and say something like:
“Hey Joan, I appreciate your desire to have me fill out your spreadsheet of detailed, specific metrics for your grant of $10,000, but I wonder if you realize that this task will take me several hours to complete, taking me away from other priorities that are critical to our mission. Can you tell me more about why you need this, and can we strategize a less time-intensive way for me to get you what you need?”
This creative approach does three things:
- Removes an activity that was going to drain your time and energy.
- Educates your funder about how valuable your time is and how confident you are in the best use of it.
- Opens the door to a more transparent, connected and equal relationship between grantor and grantee.
In this pivot, you have taken something that was frustrating, draining and de-motivating and used it to create a more connected, engaging and equal partnership with your funder.
That is the beauty of creation.
You can even try this with your board, staff, partners, even policymakers or influencers. Let me know in the comments how it goes.
Photo Credit: Alex Kondratiev