Easier Said Than Done: Death by Committee
Committees are meant to bring together expertise. What they actually do is pool incompetence. In the looking-glass world of committees, each member’s incompetence gets full hearing:• There’s always someone who says, “Too much copy. No one will read it.”
• There’s always a smart person who says, “Too emotional. People won’t respond. Make it more intellectual.”
• Then there’s an educated person who says, “You’re talking down to the donors. They’ll be insulted.”
• There’s at least one “formalizer.” You know the type: short words like “gift” become long words like “donation,” and colloquial words like “kids” become formal words like “children.” And you can’t start a sentence with a conjunction. Or use sentence fragments. Ever.
• There’s usually a brand cop with a straitjacket interpretation of brand standards.
• Then there’s someone who’s afraid of change.
• And someone else who’s allergic to anything that’s been done before.
• Have I mentioned lawyers? If you have one of those on the committee — well, let’s just start singing your project’s requiem right now.
How can we make it better?
Instead of giving up, try these three things:
1. Limit your comments. Hold your tongue and suggest changes only when you are squarely within your expertise and you have facts to back you up.
2. Work to enlighten fellow committee members. Bring in documentation from the experts. Build the case for fact-based judgment over opinion-based judgment.
3. Advocate restraint. You might be able to impact your committee’s culture and make it less destructive. Your fellow members likely are open to becoming a different kind of group for the good of your organization.
I know: That’s all much easier said than done. As long as the committee exists, it will behave as a committee. But the fundraising world needs fast, strong and intelligent horses as we face the challenges ahead. The committee as we know it isn’t going to give us that.
Young Nonprofit Workers Face Career Hurdles
As the Nonprofit 2020: Issues and Answers from the Next Generation conference begins today in Grand Rapids, Mich., Rosetta Thurman of the blog Perspectives from the Pipeline cautions the nonprofit world to recognize the challenges it faces in recruiting and nurturing young nonprofit professionals like herself.
Citing what she calls “some pretty fundamental leadership deficits in the nonprofit sector,” Ms. Thurman, director of development and finance at the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, writes about the need for greater professionalism at the executive level.
Ms. Enright said that she believed the coming generational shift at the top levels of nonprofit organizations would result in greater emphasis on professionalism and effectiveness.
Burnout, Low Pay May Drive Young Charity Workers Away
Young charity workers cited burnout and low pay as the biggest reasons they might leave nonprofit work. When asked why they would not pursue leadership jobs, they cited concerns about the pressure from board members, grant makers, and heavy work burdens that face executive directors.”We need to think about ways to make these positions sustainable,” said Mr. Solomon, who presented the results. “Passion isn’t enough to keep people in these roles.”
Charities need to provide more support and professional-development opportunities to staff members at the middle-management level, so they aren’t forced to leave the nonprofit world in order to gain experience or pay their bills, conference participants said.
Young charity workers also expressed concern that there might not be high-level jobs opening up to them, even if they do feel prepared to take on more responsibility.