Such a dichotomy!
August 28th, 2006After a particularly hectic week, I decided to give myself a break and watch some mindless television on Sunday night. I wasn't disappointed . . . certainly took no brainpower to watch the Emmys! I was multi-tasking during the broadcast trying to get ready for another hectic week!
As I watched gown after gown after gown float down the red carpet, I was astounded to hear that one star's dress cost more than $50,000 and another actress' outfit traveled the globe having beading and other jewels sewed into the fabric no doubt costing thousands of dollars.
Switching over to reality during the broadcast, I was equally stunned by the starkness and rawness of the one year view of the Katrina disaster in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast. The sad tales of how entire neighborhoods in New Orleans have been ignored while other more middle class and affluent areas are coming back to life.
The contrast of the extravagance of Hollywood with the painful reality of the aftermath of Katrina is shocking and worthy of an entry.
The silence is deafening
August 19th, 2006Recently I was traveling with two close friends and while we caught blurred glimpses of the farms of Ottawa County as we drove on, the discussion in the car was decidedly focused. We were discussing the economy and our respective thoughts on how to address our collective concerns. This, of course, dove right into a spirited debate about who could really carry the water leading the charge to attract and retain jobs, design long-term incentives for business growth and sustainable approaches assuring that Michigan regains its posture in terms of development and strengthening the economy.
No small order . . . but it did lead me to think that as I read in yesterday's Grand Rapids Press and heard on the TV news about the next round of deep cuts at Ford, that no one person, political party, business membership organization, media source, and the like has landed on the key strategies that will lead to the ultimate answer to our state's economic woes. In fact, my sense is that ideology - right, left, centrist - isn't going to spell out the complete answer neatly either.
What is going to have to happen is continuing on the path of hard arduous work - bringing together smart people from both sides of the aisle - and cutting out the political wheeling and dealing and focusing on attracting new knowledge industries/companies, retraining our work force, developing consensus on what makes a good and affordable compensation package for workers including benefits increasing our chances of having a competitive edge that has slipped away.
I hope that as this political season heats up, that West Michigan understands that community philanthropic organizations do understand the issues, have NO corner on the correct answers either and that we have to maintain neutrality in terms of siding with one candidate or another or openingly supporting one party or another. It is political suicide for us to comment as we would destroy our respective organization's ability to make a positive impact in our communities. We know that our silence, at times, is deafening but necessary.
August 11th, 2006Many articles and books have been written about mission driven organizations and how important it is to focus on the mission. Mission drift is a term used to identify when an organization seems to "float" away from its intent and purpose. Jim Collins in his writings in the books Good to Great and in the recent essay "Good to Great and the Social Sectors", speaks to the notion of hedgehog - staying focused on what you do the best.
Recently, I have had the experience of explaining to various people and groups that one of our key distinctions is that we are this community's permanent endowment serving the entire community - not just one cause, one program, one organization. This is in addition to making a positive impact on the critical problems in our community in concert with many others.
Our mission is: To build and manage our community's permanent endowment and lead the community to strengthen the lives of its people. Our mission focuses on the things we do best.
And we cover all of Kent County, the southeast corner of Ottawa County and host the Ionia County Community Foundation - that serves all of Ionia County.
Build - this community's permanent endowment
Lead - to Strengthen the lives of people in our community
Trust - that this Foundation will be here in perpetuity
When we work with various agencies, organizations, and communities to help them grow their endowments and provide the needed assurance to their donors that their gifts will live on forever and be used to grow needed resources for the future, some are under the mistaken impression that this is only for small, emerging organizations. OR for those organizations that don't want to deal with the extra attention to detail in terms of wise investments and management.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Holding the endowments of various groups is one of our ways to reach out to our community in a service capacity. Nowhere in our strategic plan or annualized work plans will you find that we are adding agency endowments as a strategy to grow our assets. In fact what you will find are objectives and metrics that are strictly customer service oriented with an emphasis on efficiency.
Trust is hard to build and earn. One way is to look into our endowment program serving agencies, organizations and communities. On this webite is a link under Nonprofits to a section that is entitled, "Why a Nonprofit or Civic Endowment Fund?" If you are interested, please give us a call at 454-1751. Marilyn Zack, VP for Development, would be happy to review all aspects of our services.
Mission Drift? Not at the Grand Rapids Community Foundation!