The thing I love best about my work is seeing absolute transformation.
It’s so exciting to see someone who is working to make the world a better place step out of the shadows and into her tremendous power.
I saw this transformation again the other day with one of my clients — “Mina”.
Mina came to me a year ago because she was afraid — of so many things, but in particular a powerful funder of hers. She was also (and very relatedly) frustrated — oh so frustrated — that her big vision for change was not moving forward.
This funder of Mina’s is a bully. Sure, they’ve given her hundreds of thousands of dollars, but they also repeatedly ask her to tweak her programs to better fit their aims while making her jump through endless hoops, taking her away from her real work.
Mina’s response has always been to bend to her funder because she feels so lucky to have them.
It drives me crazy that so many nonprofit leaders, like Mina, still buy into the nonsense story that funders — whether individual donors, foundations, corporate donors or government — are saviors, riding in on their money-laden horses to save the Minas of the world from ruin.
It’s the other way around, you know.
I explained to Mina, as I do all my clients, it is not money saving Mina.
It’s the Minas of the world — like you! — who are saving humanity from the many messes we’ve created.
So stop telling yourself that you are so grateful for the annoying and irritating funders you are so lucky to have found. That’s nonsense.
Instead, create a much more beneficial, equal and effective partnership with them.
Here’s what I suggested Mina say to her frustrating funder (after she did the 3 power moves I recommend before any interaction with a funder, or anyone who makes you question your power and authority):
“Hey Bob, I so appreciate your advice and insight, but unfortunately that’s not the right move for us right now. In fact, if we were to go down the path you are suggesting, I have no doubt that it would compromise our mission, leave our staff overworked and beyond their capacity, and our financial sustainability in jeopardy. I know you trust my expertise and discernment because you have been such a critical investor and partner in this work for so long. So let’s talk about how you can invest in the areas where we do see a future.”
Mina went into her meeting with her frustrating funder steeped in her own power. She felt amazing! And her funder was so taken aback by Mina’s new-found confidence and clarity that they quickly backed down from their bullying.
Now, I’m not naive. I doubt this will be the last time this funder tries to strong-arm Mina, but I have no doubt that the next time they do, Mina will stand her ground. And the end result will be a more equal and effective partnership between solution (Mina) and money (the funder). Isn’t that what the world needs more of right now?
If you want to learn more about how I can help you stand in your own power and build your confidence with funders, board members, policymakers, or staff, let’s talk.
Photo Credit: GR Stocks