Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right

An anonymous correspondent muses,

Dealing with foundations is so frustrating and they can be so lame.
They try to shape the city and its arts community with these  faulty
ideas that they sometimes abandon so quickly, it’s breath taking.
And they are constantly lecturing us about strategic planning.

And if you are being funded by them, you really can’t say anything.

It’s hard to better that statement of the problem.  Foundations do indeed have a do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do attitude about strategic planning, expecting from nonprofits a consistency and clarity they can’t produce themselves.  And they do indeed suffer from never hearing the truth because they’re surrounded by people beholden to them.  No wonder the Donors Forum of Chicago, a regional association of grantmakers, can delude itself that it’s a representative of the whole nonprofit community–as though there were no divergence of interest between the people who give out the money and the people who have to beg for it. 

The only solution is for nonprofits to become less dependent on foundations.  That in turn depends on strengthening their ability to raise money from individuals, which comes with fewer strings and greater predictability.


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