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Louis Fawcett is RE-IMAGINING NONPROFITS is a sneak-peek first look at his forthcoming book that confronts the piety prevents charitable leaders from changing and saving lives. Louis is the President of National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives and has dedicated his life to leading our sector out of the wilderness. Here’s a first look at his riveting page-turner RE-IMAGINING NONPROFITS…TURNING YOUR MESS INTO A MASTERPIECE (on sale November 28, 2023 [GIVING TUESDAY]):
This is how bad things have gotten for the charitable sector: A country boy from Farmville, VA has to write a book about the brokenness of nonprofits.
It’s such a mess that all the ivory tower elites from Princeton, Harvard, Yale, Washington, DC, New York and Chicago can’t fix it. In fact, ivory tower elites don’t want to fix this mess because it’s working perfectly for them! The nonprofit establishment continues to perpetuate the nonprofit mess because it serves their interests. They maintain the authority, association dues, advertising dollars, and client contracts all the while promoting the status quo. Yet, it’s failing miserably. While the establishment fiddles, the nonprofit sector burns.
The nonprofit sector is charged with handling the most difficult problems in this world. Yet, we are given the fewest resources to achieve heroic missions of scale. I don’t need to give you a list of stats about how many people need nonprofits. You can turn on the news and see all the terrible things happening in our communities.
The government sector defends our nation, maintains roads, manages monetary policies, and makes laws to help life be as fair as possible. The corporate sector provides products and services to meet our needs: cars, houses, restaurants, hotels, groceries, furniture, medicines…everything we want and need. Yet, in spite of all the good work done by the government and the corporate sectors, there are millions of people who fall through the cracks and need help. My help. Your help.
This is where the third sector, the nonprofit sector, comes into play. We serve the hungry, the homeless, the orphans, the elderly, the neuro diverse, the trafficked, the veterans, those with addictions, the animals, the arts, the environment…and so many more needs that are not met by the government or corporate sectors.
Here is the charge to the charitable sector — Find a need and meet it. Make a promise and keep it. This sounds like it should work fine, right? Wrong, it’s a mess.
There are more than 14 million nonprofit professionals working every day in our communities to make life better for millions of people. The best work in communities is done over the long term by people on the ground, working day in and day out to serve their neighbors.
But things aren’t getting better, they’re getting worse.
Truth Never Fears a Challenge
Things are not getting worse because of the people who serve nonprofits. No, things are getting worse because the nonprofit system we’ve inherited doesn’t work in the 21st century.
The concept of a group of unpaid volunteers running a Board to try to make life better for underserved people was a great idea 100 years ago. But our world has changed so drastically that the traditional nonprofit model no longer works. The mindset of people born after 1990 is radically different than the mindset of previous generations.
Younger generations don’t feel compelled to go to church, obligated to give to United Way or motivated to go to committee meetings. In addition, younger people are skeptical of organizations who claim to be helping while things don’t seem to be getting better. Say what you want about Millennials and Gen Z, but with one or two clicks they can get any fact, image, or video they want. They know how to discern when something isn’t authentic. They are bombarded with images and sounds all designed to create a response.
In a world filled with noise, why should younger people read anything nonprofits send?
Yet, charities attempt to do the same things they were taught to do decades ago:
- Send newsletters
- Create email campaigns
- Barrage donors with information
- Ask donors to give small amounts (every dollar counts)
- Recruit more Board members and insist they fundraise
But these things don’t work anymore. In order to compete in a changing world, the nonprofit sector needs to be re-imagined if we are going to secure the dollars needed to scale our missions.
Did you know giving to United Way is down 35% over the last 25 years?
Donor retention (think customer retention) this year was 45%. 45%?
I just threw up on my computer. A 45% donor retention rate means that nonprofits LOST 55% of their donors this year!
Oh, and let’s add in the divisiveness of our culture, the differences in the generations, the incredibly dissimilar world views promoted by news outlets, and the ability of anyone anywhere to say something stupid, inaccurate, and slanderous on social media…with no accountability.
And one more depressing thought: there is more money available for philanthropy than ever before and it’s easier to give now (because of technology) more than ever. Yet, why would anyone want to give money to this sinking ship we call the nonprofit sector?
We must think differently about the charitable movement. We must RE-IMAGINING NONPROFITS.
Please understand, this book is not about disruption. This book is about getting back to the radical purpose of the nonprofit sector — to change and save lives.
This book is not about attention. I really didn’t want to take time to write a book (as if the world needs another opinion floating around). I’d rather be spending time with my family on the beach, driving my Corvette as fast as it will go, or hanging out with my friends on a boat (my next purchase goal). I’ve been busting my butt in churches and nonprofits for 25 years. The last thing I want is attention and more work. I’m exhausted.
But since Jimmy LaRose, a dear friend who is also passionate about changing lives, dared me to write this book, I took on the challenge. He owes me a bottle of very expensive bourbon. I’m also writing this book because children around the world deserve better. They don’t benefit from this broken nonprofit mess.
Quite simply, this book is about truth…and truth never fears a challenge.
So here’s the plan, I’m going to spend the first six chapters describing the mess of the nonprofit sector and then I’m going to layout ten solutions to help you turn your nonprofit mess into a masterpiece.
More than 30 Million People Already Mad at Me
Many of you who have read this far are already indignant. Some nonprofit insiders, who are honest with themselves, will agree. Pious, self-righteous nonprofit leaders will be upset with this book because they don’t like being told the truth — their nonprofits are broken messes. They know what I’m saying is true, but they will never admit it out loud.
The pious nonprofit establishment are those who sit in their headquarters making pronouncements, but never actually do anything to help people. They will not admit the nonprofit sector is broken. This admission would disrupt their purpose, income, and sense of self-worth. It’s not their fault, they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. But the status quo is a depressing exercise in mediocrity.
I can’t sit around any longer and watch elites hurt the very people they are meant to be serving. While ivory tower charitable leaders tell us the way things ought to be, children are dying, families are suffering, and the needs of millions of people go unmet.
Do I sound angry? Yes, I’m angry. I’m angry at the nonprofit elites who draw paychecks, drink coffee and go to meetings while millions of children all over the world suffer.
I’m angry about the academics and grant writers who use buzzwords like innovation, collaboration, sustainability, and empowerment while girls and boys are sex trafficked.
I’m angry about Donor Advised Funds who hold hostage more than 100 billion dollars of private philanthropy for their own glory and gain while veterans continue to commit suicide.
I’m angry on behalf of the underpaid nonprofit workers who suffer with no healthcare benefits or retirement accounts because they’ve always been told, well, we’re a nonprofit, so we can’t pay you very much. Do credit card companies and banks care that we work for nonprofits when the bills are due?
My colleagues are burned out, stressed out, frustrated and ready to throw in the towel. What is the incentive for them to continue in this madness?
Here’s the thing, there are SO MANY good, honest, hardworking people in the nonprofit sector. But they’ve inherited this mess and they’re expected to make it look pretty.
I promise you, I’m going to offer solutions (that we know work empirically) but before we fix this mess, we need to see it for what it is.
There are 14 million nonprofit professionals who have a vested interest in holding up this house of cards. There are roughly 18 million nonprofit Board members who want to feel good about serving on Boards because they think they are helping. They would rather not be confronted with the reality that they are wasting their time and money on a plane that’s nose diving into the side of a mountain.
It’s much easier to be in denial than it is to confront reality and figure out how to change it. I’m not mad at the unpaid volunteer Board members who have terrible ideas…this mess is not their fault. I’m also not mad at nonprofit professionals. It’s not their fault they’ve inherited a broken system.
To those of you who are irritated already, it’s ok, because your co-worker knows I’m right.
To those of you who think I’m on a crazy rant, please remember that very little in this world has ever been accomplished by mundane people achieving mediocrity according to the status quo.
To all of you who agree (even a little bit) or have a morbid sense of curiosity to see where this is going, pour a drink and get your popcorn…HERE WE GO!
Louis Fawcett’s RE-IMAGINING NONPROFITS…TURNING YOUR MESS INTO A MASTERPIECE will be an instant industry-wide bestseller. He first defines “YOUR MESS” and follows with 10 Chapters that provide you the solutions you require to turn your organization into a MASTERPIECE! (on sale November 28, 2023 [GIVING TUESDAY])
Louis Fawcett, known around the world as CHARITY’S MASTERMIND, has spent the last quarter century growing nonprofits, ministries, and churches across the U.S. and around the world. His personal mission to change and saves lives has driven him to confront the establishment, defy convention and expose the broken systems that wreak havoc on 501(c)(3) corporations. Louis’ critical insights into nonprofit management are changing the way organizations do business.
His long and storied career serving hundreds of impact agencies has turned him into a capacity-building expert and organizational development virtuoso. His thought-provoking “the emperor has no clothes” approach to training leaders has inspired C-Suite Executive, Board Members and Volunteers to transform the groups they serve. He is a gifted truth-teller whose charisma and humor inspire standing-ovations each time he shares his message of clarity and hope.
Louis serves as President of the National Association of Nonprofit Organizations and Executives (NANOE), is a National Development Institute (NDI) faculty member and Senior Counselor with Development Systems International (DSI). He holds a BA from Randolph-Macon, MA from Wake Forest, and MDiv from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. Louis wakes up every day focused on serving his heroes – the frontline workers who give their lives to charity.
National Association of Nonprofit Organizations & Executives (NANOE) is a nationwide network of donors, volunteers and charitable leaders whose relentless commitment to significant and sustainable impact transforms the communities we serve. NANOE members are innovators who solve problems (not just service them) by deploying heroic missions of scale that confront social and environmental dilemmas so completely that money chases after their every need.
NANOE’s New Guidelines for Nonprofits outlines six major recommendations to develop nonprofits in a manner that grows and achieves significant impacts. Over five years a group of high performing executives performed empirical studies that identified factors that ensure nonprofits scale their missions.
NANOE is the fastest growing nonprofit membership network in the United States. It is a fellowship of individuals who believe that “innovation never fears a challenge” and that the greatest contribution donors, volunteers and practitioners can make to charity is to become the creative, thinking enterprise-leaders our sector so desperately needs.
Louis Fawcett is RE-IMAGINING NONPROFITS was first posted at INSIDE CHARITY
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