Our lead story this issue is the Just Awards — the awards for Narcissism in Philanthropy and Abominable Press Coverage of the Nonprofit Sector. The purpose of the awards is, of course, to make a point through humor, but they also turned out to be a way for dozens of people to let off steam in the nominations process. Our hope is that over the next months, foundations will think about doing something, and then someone will say, "But if we do that we might end up getting next year’s Just Award!"
In addition to tweaking the minor-but-aggravating behaviors of foundations, it’s important to remember two things. First is that the market for funding is deeply fragmented, inefficient, irrational, and often self-indulgent. (Grantmaker Bill Somerville says that foundations’ motto is "After us, you come first.") In fact, much of what is criticized in the nonprofit sector — such as the failure to "get to scale" — is actually the result of funding patterns rather than of nonprofit choice.
Second, despite the dysfunction in our capital markets — or perhaps especially because of the dysfunction — we nonprofits must work to be smarter, more agile, more culturally competent with funders, and more focused on understanding funders by what they do, rather than by what they say. We can’t let complaining distract us from succeeding.Â
* We also have two practical and thought-provoking articles: one on Business Model Statements for nonprofits, and one on working from home legally and appropriately. And if you can’t get to Iceland to see the volcano, at least take a 3-Minute Vacation there. — Jan Masaoka