Reframing Intermediaries as Collective Capacity Builders It’s time to stop using the term “intermediary” and start using the term Collective Capacity Builder for nonprofits that provide resources to other nonprofits. Why? Intermediary has all the wrong connotations and is likely one of the reasons that funders and donors are still squeamish about supporting infrastructure that seems to “get in between” their resources and the needs on the ground. “Intermediary” invokes bureaucracy, barriers, and needless added expense and complexity. Intermediaries are often painted with the same…Continue Reading “From Barrier to Builder”

Can the Nonprofit Sector be Saved? The nonprofit sector today is threatened not only by forces of financial insolvency, as we are most often inclined to point out, but more critically by its rooting in white corporate culture and supremacist practices. Though our sector is one of the battle fronts for social justice, to what degree can we use instruments wrought by white supremacy for its own undoing?  So the critical question is not whether the sector can be reimagined in a more financially sustainable…Continue Reading “A Question of Redemption”

White leaders, in particular founders in the nonprofit sector, need to step aside. Step aside, quietly and without fanfare, and cede space for leaders of color at the helms of our institutions, the heads of our committee tables, and the podiums of our plenaries. Eighty percent of all nonprofits are white-led, and that figure rises to ninety percent for the 315 largest nonprofits in the country. And when our successors of color proceed to dismantle and remake those institutions, those structures, those committees, those sacred…Continue Reading “Dear White Colleagues, We Need to Step Aside.”

Mission Motivation and Why It Matters The nonprofit sector is home to a staggering diversity of missions and purposes, but there are just two archetypal origins that inspire mission, or mission motivations. Missions are either primarily motivated by external or internal forces to the individual or group defining the mission. The category your mission falls into may help explain some of the inequities in funding you encounter as well as the manner in which you argue impact, build a resource model, think about scale, and…Continue Reading “The Inequities of Doing Good”

Why Fiscal Sponsors Might Lead the Reimagination of our Post-COVID Sector Fiscal sponsors are well positioned to lead our sector to reimagine and reconstruct a more sustainable, impactful and equitable social good community in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet the fiscal sponsorship ecosystem is under-built, poorly understood, and itself struggling with lack of capacity. In recent weeks, we have heard calls in the nonprofit sector for reimagination and reconstruction, not recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Recovery” implies returning to a previous state. Our…Continue Reading “A Call to Action for Fiscal Sponsors”

A New Framework for the Nonprofit Sector The Problem. The American nonprofit sector, from its origins in the early 20th century, has built itself in the image of the private sector. Private sector thinking, assumptions, values and practices have intruded the management of what is actually a commons–a set of resources (financial, human, physical, intellectual) that are stewarded and sustained for the benefit of a defined group of people. This misapplication of private management and free-market thinking to a landscape of commons resources is the…Continue Reading “Reclaiming Common Good”