Robust leadership needed right NOW!
March 9th, 2009Two weeks ago I wrote an email to the Foundation's Board of Trustees commenting on the economy and its impact on the Foundation and our community. The content has become the centerpiece for my article in the next issue of our newsletter Current. Here's an excerpt from the email:
"After spending the better part of the past three days with the CEOs of Community Foundations from Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois in Lorain County Ohio, I came back not as full of hope as I had wanted. Stories of investments continuing to shrink dramatically, grantmaking, while taking a role of prominence, is not as robust as it once was along dealing with the uncertainty of how this country's economy and indeed the global economy will stabilize. Have I totally depressed you yet? I hope not because now more than ever before this board's leadership is paramount.
* How do we cope and hopefully thrive in this horrific environment?
* How do we actively grow our assets for the future of our community?
* How will we advocate for the dollars needed to flow into west Michigan and not become a "state divided" - east versus west?
* What role will the Grand Rapids Community Foundation play to be among the key forces influencing the ultimate recovery in our area?
Enough of the hand wringing! Lucy Bernholz, a person whose name may be recognizable to some of you more veteran trustees, influenced our last strategy plan with her ground breaking research on the future for community foundations written back in 2005 along with Katherine Fulton. I'll be referencing her work more as we move through this year. She was reading my Twitter entries (tweets)* over the past three days re: the meeting of foundation CEOs in Ohio and she recommended her blog entry from earlier this week and a blog entry by a Harvard professor Marty Linsky for whom I have a great deal of respect.
Rather than lamenting and wringing my hands and holding my head up with my hands, I thought I'd share this also with all of you as this is really the message I heard from all of you at our last board meeting. Both blog entries and the video embedded in them both are well worth the time to read, view and listen. I'll be interested in your reactions."
I included the following link in the message and do so for all readers of this blog:
Lucy Bernholz's blog entry from February 24th entitled: "It is restructuring not a recession"
I am not looking at the world through rose colored glasses though sometimes I'm tempted. This is about the leadership needed right now particularly in the nonprofit sector and indeed from this Foundation. This is not the time to hide - to hunker down - wither away. This IS the time to move forward looking to innovation beyond survival. As Dr. Linsky writes "The more courageous in the foundation community are using this crisis as an opportunity to encourage [their] grantees to make hard choices and to help them through . . . the trauma . . . as they contemplate mergers, starting innovative programs that might meet future needs and priorities . . .Those are reset ideas."
*Social networking sites like Twitter are increasingly important and not just for kids! Great way to share ideas.