The antiquated world of Foundations
I got an email this week from a friend who has built two incredible non-profit organizations. One of them is a household name. She is on her third. She is brilliant, has serious tenacity and has changed more lives than I can count. I love her spirit.
She wanted 30 minutes of my time for some advice. She was frustrated with the world of foundations. She is building a non-profit that will help teens at risk but really doesn’t have any concrete numbers that the foundation is looking for. The site has launched and there is no doubt she is getting traction but what the foundation needs is information that she just doesn’t have yet. If she was building a profit organization based on what she has done, she would get angel investing or VC funding in a heartbeat.
She wanted to knowif should she just suck it up and figure out how to get the foundations something or try to change the insanity of how the foundations work. There is a huge disconnect between how foundations fund and what non-profits need. I told her to suck it up and figure out how to change that world at another time.
The system is seriously broken. I am sure that the majority of large foundations that were set-up by some very entrepreneurial families would be rolling over in their graves if they knew how decisions were being made and the layers of red tape (aka money being spent) to make a decision.
Once a foundation makes a decision, you generally do not hear from them again. That would not happen in a profit world. You want experts involved. I’d like to see one of the big foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller, Knight to change the way decision making is done, follow-up is being done, involvement and everything starting from the top. These organizations have the financial means to get behind something and make a difference. Many non-profits need to figure out how to be sustainable and they could help.
People like my friend are making a serious difference in the world. She shouldn’t be frustrated. It is her calling. If she has chosen the profit world then she would not be in this position and she might not have made the impact in our world that she has made. I am done with the word disruption but this is an industry that really needs to be changed.