Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Pallotta Insights from The Bridge

As reported in my last blog, my friend John Thomas and I facilitated a session on Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk at the recent Bridge Conference.  The participants had such great insights that I asked John to join me as co-author of this week’s blog to provide some of the highlights of those comments.  Thanks John!  Here is our report:

*We – nonprofit executives – need to get better educated about finances and overhead cost arguments.

*The culture supporting low overhead costs is VERY strong among donors and Board members; we have a lot of work to do.

*We also have a lot of work to do among staff.

*We need to change the way we train staff and orient new board members. Training and orientation should flow down from new principles and values – some of which were in the Pallotta talk.

*Putting an “Innovation Fund” line item in the organization budget can help support a culture of creativity and experimentation.

*We are part of the problem in that many of us have bragged about low overhead with simplistic pie charts in reports.  We have to tell more of the story and shift to talking about IMPACT.  We also need new ways of thinking about IMPACT.

*The proliferation of new non-profits creates problems and perhaps it should be harder to start them.  More mergers may be needed.

*Government shrinkage may become an even larger driver of need for effective and efficient NPOs.  Use this change to leverage re-thinking matters of infrastructure, capitalization and compensation for NPOs.  (If the government can move toward privatization of services, why can’t NPOs take on some of these characteristics?)

*We should consider joining the organization Pallotta started, The Charity Defense Council.

*We need to hold our various nonprofit membership groups (e.g., AFP, CASE, AHP, AGB) accountable for fighting The Overhead Myth.  And they need to get connected to The Charity Defense Council.

There you have it!  Thanks to the great folks who turned out for the session and provided these excellent insights.  We have a lot of work to do to combat The Overhead Myth, but Dan Pallotta has provided us with a great conversation starter with his video.  Let’s get to work.

For more ideas on how you can lead breakthroughs in your organization, follow this blog and check out my web site at www.SheehanNonprofitConsulting.com   You will find free resources you can download, including a Breakthrough Strategy Workbook that you can download at no cost.  You can also check out my book, Mission Impact:  Breakthrough Strategies for Nonprofits, and buy it if you are interested.  And you can follow Sheehan Nonprofit Consulting on Facebook.

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