I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood! (see music video here)
Like a mirage, we in the nonprofit community keep seeing a vision where everyone understand nonprofits. We think: if they only understood everything that we do, they would fund us, donate to us, appreciate us, respect us. We want not only to do good work, but to be recognized for it.
After all, we’re human. This mirage beckons to many sectors: farmers think that if people only understood how important farming is, pro-agriculture policies would pass and we wouldn’t complain about the price of peaches. Restaurants think that if people only understood how many jobs restaurants create, restaurants would be less regulated. Scientists think that if people only understood how much training and discipline their work requires, they would get paid more than bankers.
In short, we all want to be understood, and in a complex society none of us can expect ever to be understood. We ultimately hurt ourselves when — in efforts to combat stereotypes — we overemphasize professionalism and neglect to discuss volunteerism, and when we let those chips on our shoulders show.
When agribusiness speaks to Congress, they proudly conjure up the image of the family farm. Paradoxically, it is the nonprofit sector that is comprised of family farms — small nonprofits — yet we keep trying to portray ourselves as a gigantic industry with huge companies. Let’s argue for the importance of a healthy, brilliantly tumultuous ecology in the nonprofit sector, and embrace the small nonprofits as residing at the heart of our community.
* If you are a nonprofit CFO, accountant, board treasurer or otherwise responsible for nonprofit finances, please take the American Nonprofits/Blue Avocado survey on nonprofit finance professionals! Click here.
* With 735 readers signed up for last week’s Nonprofit Sustainability webinar, we’re pleased that this issue has a summary “How to Create a Matrix Map” article from the book. We’ve also got HR advice on Obamacare, advice for executive directors who want to keep their boards under their thumbs, and more. Oh, and isn’t spring wonderful? –Jan Masaoka