What are we not doing?

This question - what are we not doing? - may be the most important question any strategist, funder, program officer, or board member can ask. It contextualizes the choices that are being made. It sheds light on how well you (or your staff) have scanned the landscape. It will help you think about what might come next. It may nudge you to reconsider ideas or plans that you had previously put aside. It requires you to explain, contextualize, justify, position the things you are doing.

Next time you are developing a funding strategy, considering a grant portfolio, thinking through evaluation, or doing due diligence with a potential grantee, ask yourself: What we are we not doing? (and why?)

Speaking of strategic planning here is a nice example of openness in the process - check out this "twitter conversation" and Presentation on Philanthropy's Tensions from the Peery Foundation's strategic planning process.


Brad Smith said...

When I first read the title for this blog post, I expected a commentary on Twitter. This, after all, is the antithesis of Twitter: What am I NOT doing now? A hugely important question in philanthropy and life in general.

Lucy Bernholz said...

Ha! I hadn't even thought of the twitter-istic allusion. Oh, how much further I could have taken this. Thanks Brad!


Bill Huddleston said...

The Non-Profit Sector is Not Saying "Thank-You" to thousands who deserve it.

The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) just released the results from the 2008 non-profit fundraising campaign. The total amount pledged by Federal public servants to thousands of local, national and international non-profits was $275,898,756 which was a 1% increase over the 2007 total of $273,271,290.

The CFC is one of the few fundraising resources for non-profits that did not report a decline in during last fall’s economic pressures.

In the CFC (and many other workplace giving campaigns) there are actually three categories of people that should be thanked:

1. Identified Donors
2. Anonymous Donors
3. Volunteers who plan, organize, manage, run and do the actual solicitations of their co-workers.

Most non-profits do okay on the first category, and are abysmally poor at saying thank-you to the other two categories of people who deserve thanks.

"But we don't know who they are" is the usual response. You have other venues besides an individual letter -- "Thank you to our CFC Donors and Volunteers" doesn't take much space in an annual report, newsletter, on your home page, in a blog, etc.

Two non-profits that do a good job of thanking all of their CFC supporters are Martha's Table and the American Hospice Foundation, both in Washington, D.C.

Want to learn more about the world’s largest workplace giving campaign? After $1 billion of unrestricted funds over the past five years don't you think that they deserve a "thank-you?"

If the CFC were a foundation, it would be the 10th largest foundation in the USA, based on actual giving.

Bill Huddleston

CITGO Fueling Good said...

And don't forget to capitalize on the generosity of others. No, you can't plan on it, per se, but it is important not to miss these opportunities while focusing on a plan.

For instance, there's Fueling Good - http://facebook.com/CITGOFuelingGood - which is giving out fuel to local heros. Nominate your charity and vote for others!