May 7, 2024

#5 - Setting Up to Succeed

Although we may need the federal government to enact some policies for the charity sector,  we should not be placing our solutions on the shoulders of policymakers.  Ottawa is running significant deficits, and cannot simply throw all of the necessary money at the charity sector. We need to partner with Ottawa but not depend on Ottawa.... The track record of the federal government proves we can not depend on them to solve the many sector problems.

It is not like our sector lacks money.   There are tens of billions of dollars flowing in the sector, annually, and over $140+Billion sitting in foundation investment accounts.   We just need to spend a fraction of this in some new, smarter, more innovative ways.

In a previous blog, I discussed the need to follow “good politics” and to think in terms of small pragmatic, incremental gains.  There is no room for idealistic transformational paradigm shifts. Democracy does not work this way (short of a revolution). So what will our new initiatives need to look like?

--> Our innovations must start by recognizing and leveraging the many current leadership organizations.   It is unrealistic to think we can just replace them with one new peak organization.  This would ruffle too many feathers and grind progress into inertia.  Instead, we need to build on the equity and goodwill of our many different sector leaders.   We are well served by having a diversity of organizations.   This will also reduce risk and anxiety of policymakers in Ottawa.    

--> The new innovations must also avoid duplication.  We do not need more of the same and more newsletters. The innovation must fill gaps and/or enhance limited-resourced initiatives.   They must add value to our charity ecosystem.  

--> The new initiatives must also have positive Return on Investment (ROI).   There needs to be accountability and measured results.

--> There needs to be transparency.  No hidden agenda.  We need an approach free and clear of funding biases.

--> We also do NOT need to solve all of our problems in one program.  Progress will be via a sequence of small steps.  We can’t wait to find the perfect, wholistic sector solution.   The importance (and objective) of small incremental progress, with urgency, should not be underestimated. - Perfection is the enemy of good.

--> Nor do we need to consult everyone, nor have approval on every decision. - Analysis paralysis.  If we put process as the primary concern, we are weakening our ability to act quickly and strongly.  Good ideas speak for themselves.

And we must innovate. The status quo is not good enough .

As Bob Iger, CEO of The Walt Disney Company, aptly said, "The riskiest thing we can do is just maintain the status quo," echoing Mark Twain's sentiment that "Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection."

In the next blog, I'll propose top priorities leveraging our current leadership organizations. Meanwhile, I welcome your thoughts on the key strategic priorities for our charity sector as a whole.

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