How Funders Often Hurt The Nonprofits They Are Trying To Help
Nonprofits face a lot of unexpected threats when trying to make change in the world. But they’re common enough to be categorical. One typically gets filed under acts of god, when some outside factor like, say, a surprise mega-storm decimates all of the crops that hunger-relief organizations depend on. Or a government destabilizes, or currency in a region becomes devalued.
Another can be chalked up to organizational misfortune: That’s when some partner group–say, a community organization or local government that promised to help implement some health reform–can’t pull off its part of the deal. Basic fraud or theft fall under this umbrella too, along with employee illness or warehouse fires.
But the biggest, and perhaps most surprising bucket of despair, is created by the very people who are trying to help. When an organization bankrolling positive change accidentally torpedoes it by changing their funding strategy mid-grant cycle, delaying disbursement of funds for some reason, or being generally inflexible in how they dole out money that generally cash-strapped groups depend on. Call them “funder-created obstacles.”
These findings, and the terms, come from Open Road Alliance, which provides bailout grants to groups that encounter unexpected, mission-crippling obstacles. The group, which has been offering charitable or recoverable grants since 2012, has also been tracking exactly what led groups to seek its services. The result is their newly released “Roadblock Analysis Report” that tracks 102 applications with 22 distinct problems, all of which fall into one of those three boarders areas of concern.