Flower Child and Conformity: National and Local Chapters Control Issues
We fail as an industry to listen to volunteer leadership and field staff when they give us great information because we are blinded by our mandate to consolidate and our own ideas. We fail to look at the unfamiliar or out-of-process approaches that come from the field because they are not easy to fit into our current national model. These variances are a pain, and we avoid them and discourage, even fire people who persist with their ideas. Should they be afraid they will lose their choices? They should be more than afraid; they should be terrified given our industry's biggest players' histories.
Is it a pain to successfully manage ideas, keep the good ones and not demoralize the originators of the ones that don't work? Yes, it is hard. But if you don't create systems to foster and manage innovation (another word for "idea"), then you eventually become the old nonprofit sitting in the corner refusing to use email, with a pager and an Excel spreadsheet keeping track of your donors.
By building systems to foster innovation, you may not be able to preserve jobs, but you will preserve some form of choice, and you will make local staffs feel heard, which makes them think you are informed, which helps them believe you'll make good decisions.
Until we can create systems that foster innovation — and not just when NATIONAL PEOPLE are innovating — then I guess I'm going to keep railing against "the man," even though I might be one.
Katrina VanHuss has been instilling passion in volunteer fundraisers since 1989 when she founded Turnkey. Otis joined in the fun in 2013 as Turnkey’s resident human behavior expert. One thing led to another, and now as a married couple, they almost never stop talking about fundraising, volunteerism and human decision-making, much to the chagrin of most dinner companions.
Through their work at Turnkey, the pair works with the likes of the American Lung Association, Best Buddies, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, using human behavioral tendencies and recognition to create attachment and high fundraising in volunteers.
Katrina and Otis present regularly at clients’ national conferences, as well as at BBCon, NonProfit Pro P2P and Peer to Peer Forum, and are the co-authors of the 2017 book, Dollar Dash. They live in Richmond, Va.