Just my Opinion

by | Jan 29, 2015

May I call myself an expert based on 33 years experience? That’s what my opinions are based on – years working in and with nonprofit organizations, and many experiences with donors. I’m going to take the risk and share a couple of opinions. I hope you’ll respond with your own. A recent article in the Chronicle of Philanthropy mentioned six trends to watch.  Two of them seem particularly relevant right now.

Here’s my opinion.

Generation X’s Time at the Top is coming. This change will significantly impact nonprofits over the next ten years.  We’ve been reading about it for years, and now we’re seeing it happen. Baby boomers are turning the reins over to younger staff with very different ideas about how to run the organization.

Baby Boomers should not just go home. They still have work to do.

On this matter I speak from personal experience. I was a very young Executive Director in the beginning of my career with practically no life experience. Had it not been for several board members and one key donor who made it their business to mentor, grow me and more than anything make sure I learned from my mistakes, I would be doing something very different today. I understand that Generation X’s time has come, but I also believe baby boomers must find a way to coach and mentor.

Mentoring and coaching. That’s our next best role.

Giving is Back from Recession Depths – The article indicated that giving might top the pre-recession peak of $350 billion in 2015. In fact the trend of more giving and larger gifts is chalked up to generational transfers of money that nonprofits have been hearing about for a number of years.  I don’t doubt that it’s coming or that we’ll start seeing increases. Nonprofits are saying when? Baby boomers are worried about how the next generation will handle transfers of family wealth or how nonprofits will manage large gifts.

I’m worried about good decision-making by both. How money and assets move to the next generation will impact how well they handle the resulting responsibility. Learning to be good stewards of what is passed on and understanding the family’s unique history with regard to family wealth is important work. It requires discussion and planning.

Additionally, I’m concerned about nonprofits and their ability to be good stewards of large gifts. Nonprofits are more professional and have more resources to manage effectively and efficiently than at any other time in history. But many nonprofits operate like they did twenty years ago – hand to mouth. They lack strong planning and financials that back up their services. Careful gift planning is essential.  In some cases the nonprofit needs to know a large gift is coming so that they can begin the work of being prepared.  Again, discussion and planning is critical.

You can read about all six trends at http://philanthropy.com/article/6-Trends-to-Watch-in-2015/151133/.

For me these two were the most important.  What do you think?



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