Maxie Carpenter Asks, “Why Create A Problem That Doesn’t Exist?” is Maxie’s take on how the nonprofit sector should be responding to social unrest. Here’s what he has to share:
I’ve been focusing very much on how recent events, beginning with the Pandemic, the tragedy in Minneapolis, and continuing with the protests and riots across the country, have and will affect Nonprofits.
I’ve also focused on how a culture of Socialism will affect Nonprofits, as I believe we’re in a culture war in this country for our very freedom. I’ve done so based upon the lens through which I see the world. One is Leadership and the other is Organizational Efficiency. It helps me stay focused, objective and in as much control of my biases as I can exert.
Even more so recently, in my personal musings (YouTube channel and Blog), I’ve been commenting on the number of problems being created by short-sighted leadership. Trust me, in my time, both personally and professionally, I’ve learned a lot about creating problems that didn’t exist by not thinking things through. In short, I’ve let my mouth write checks that my rear end couldn’t cover.
I respect other opinions and preferences. Always have and always will. I’m open-minded but not to the degree that my brain falls out. The only time I’ll push back is when someone tries to impose those opinions and preferences against my will. I’ve been consistent with this my whole life. I’m going to be consistent again with this article.
I was contacted by an Affiliate of Habitat for Humanity this week asking for guidance after expressing their concern to the CEO of HH, John Reckford, regarding a message of support for BLM posted on the national website and imploring everyone to do the same on their website and to consider donations to BLM. The Affiliate’s concern was that this would not be well received by their Board, donors, or community; in short, all of their stakeholders. The response they received to their feedback was…well the best way to describe it is that (to use a term becoming pretty popular today) Mr. Reckford ‘doubled down.’
Looking through the lens of Leadership, I’m not sure I’ve witnessed a more short-sighted or less thoughtful communication from a CEO (For Profit or Nonprofit) on something so volatile at a time like this. One of the major responsibilities of any Leader is not to create problems that don’t exist. This is a prime example.
We can agree that Nonprofits need to address racial injustice, make statements in that regard, commit resources to advance the issue of inequities and support racial equality in their organizations. But, isn’t that what Nonprofits like HH are doing every day?
So, why do they have to embrace or endorse a specific organization to do that? Why do they have to align their missions with that of a specific organization? Why do they have to encourage donations and recruit support for them, market for them, align their brands with them, regardless of how it impacts the Affiliates work or their very sustainability, as this particular message very well could?
The color of one’s skin has never mattered when it comes to addressing the pockets of poverty that exist all over rural America. I worked in Corporate America for just under 30 years, having traveled the globe and this country. I’ve consulted with Nonprofits for the last 20 years. During that time, I worked on the front lines for 7 years with the largest Nonprofit feeding organization in the State of Arkansas. I learned that there’s a significant difference between leading people in a marketplace, where, for the most part, all their needs are being met and quite another to lead people in the service of those who walk in your door every day looking for only one thing, and that’s hope! Not once has the issue of race gotten in the way of serving anyone in need of hope.
Habitat for Humanity is based in Atlanta, and maybe it’s necessary there and in other large metropolitan areas where most of the unrest is happening. But in rural America, we don’t see near that degree of racial divide. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to leadership has never worked for all. Affiliates for any national organization interact with their unique geographic markets differently. They succeed because they avoid political diversion. They’re change agents for social equality for all and they don’t align with a specific organization having a different mission to do so.
It’s one thing, and perfectly acceptable to explain that some of a donor’s contributions will go to Habitat builds in other regions, states and even countries. I personally know donors who’ve been on international missions in partnerships with their local Church and HH Affiliate. However, it’s quite another to create the image that some of their funding and support might go to another organization with a different mission. Like it or not, there will be some who’ll be offended by affiliations with groups they do not agree with.
Mr. Reckford is going to receive a lot more push back on this decision. My hope is that he doesn’t double down by attempting a mandate. If so, there will be a lot of Affiliates in rural America letting him know how independent they really are.
Maxie Carpenter Asks, “Why Create A Problem That Doesn’t Exist?” was first posted at INSIDE CHARITY
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