On planting a flag versus exploring

Lately, I have been watching a few organizations get territorial. Years ago, they planted a flag, got to the pole first, and now they are convinced that they are the only ones allowed to work on whatever the issue at hand might be. We’re the ones here working on relieving hunger, economic development, an affordable housing crisis. Back off!

Sometimes this type of behavior has to do with the big egos. In other cases, it is rooted in a fear of losing grant funding to new organizations.

A few thoughts.

Are you doing the good work needed to solve a problem — week in, week out? Just planting a flag doesn’t make an issue yours. If you staked out a big, important issue, others are going to want to see progress made around it, too.  If your organization isn’t doing – or realistically can’t do – all the work that needs to be done, don’t be surprised if other people and organizations start wanting to work on the issue, too.

Did your organization take on an issue that is too big to be tackled by one organization? If the issue your organization is tackling is really difficult, then embrace the help. You’re probably not going to get a Nobel Peace Prize or a MacArthur Genius Award, no matter how many daydreams you may have about being rewarded for being the one ED, the one nonprofit, that made the difference. We live in a collaborative age. Big problems require as many hands on deck as possible to solve.

There is plenty of work to be done, whether it involves educating children or stopping global warming. How can your organization identify a mission and projects that are unique, that fill gaps, and complement the work of other organizations? And how do you find funding for your unique set of projects?

These questions fascinate me. I am here to help you and your organization explore this new territory.



Photo: Death to Stock

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