Who Owns Your NonProfit?
I will never forget the day I sat in a meeting with a group of leaders of a major non-profit and said to them, "OK, I want to stop for a moment of reflection and ask a question. Think carefully about your answer."
And then I asked the question, "Who owns this nonprofit?"
There was an eerie silence in the room as this group of thoughtful, professional and competent leaders processed their thoughts.
"George does!" blurted out one person. "He's the founder."
"No," said another person. "It's the board of directors. They own this organization. They are elected and appointed to govern it. They own it."
"Well, it's the staff and leadership, including the board, that owns this organization," the program director said, putting a finer point on the statement of the person just before him. "They really do represent the interests of the cause we are committed to."
I remembered asking this same question of the leadership of a Christian faith-based organization. Several people confidently asserted that God owned the nonprofit. That was an interesting discussion that wound its way around the core thought that, for a person of faith, God actually owns everything. So, we really didn't get too far there.
After about 15 minutes of heated debate and discussion, the room got quiet again. So, I jumped in and said, "OK, let's look at this from another point of view. Who owns United Airlines, Apple, Microsoft or Exxon? Pick any company, not privately held, and tell me who owns them?"
"The shareholders do," said the finance director. And after processing that some shareholders own more of a stake than others, we all agreed that that was the correct answer.
I continued: "Who are the shareholders in a nonprofit?"
If you’re hanging with Richard it won’t be long before you’ll be laughing.
He always finds something funny in everything. But when the conversation is about people, their money and giving, you’ll find a deeply caring counselor who helps donors fulfill their passions and interests. Richard believes that successful major-gift fundraising is not fundamentally about securing revenue for good causes. Instead it is about helping donors express who they are through their giving. The Connections blog will provide practical information on how to do this successfully. Richard has more than 30 years of nonprofit leadership and fundraising experience, and is founding partner of the Veritus Group.