Funders, your “wait and see” approach is killing nonprofits during leadership transitions
“Funder-Created Obstacles make up 46% of the roadblock dataset and include specific obstacles such as a Delay of Disbursement, a Change in Funder Strategy, and Funder Policy Inflexibility. With only a few exceptions, Funder-Created Obstacles are the most frequent roadblocks across all sectors, funder types, project types, geographic focus, and organization size. Thus, funders are frequently – if unintentionally – contributing to disruptions to project implementation and, in doing so, threatening the impact of their own investments.” [Bolded-line emphasis mine]
I know we are all thinking the same thing: Where is Septa Unella, the severe nun from Game of Thrones, when we need her? This is the perfect time for her to walk around ringing a bell and chanting “Shame! Shame!” every three or four steps.
While this revelation is distressing, it is hardly surprising. There are many amazing foundations and program officers out there, but honestly, we all know that funders create the biggest headaches for us nonprofits (The list is 1. Funders 2. Boards 3. Staff 4. #OfficeMiceProblems). It’s nice to get some empirical evidence that we nonprofits are not exaggerating. We need to acknowledge that this is a serious issue, that funder behavior is hurting nonprofit work and also driving effective leaders out of the sector.
Please read the full report, as it provides lots of good suggestions on what funders can do to counter this problem, including being more communicative with grantees and more flexible on how and when funds can be used. And of course, I would emphasize, by providing Multi-Year General Operating Dollars (MYGOD!)