While reading the article Placing the Normative Logics of Accountability in “Thick” Perspective by Alnoor Ebrahim of Harvard University (American Behavioral Scientist, Volume 52, 2009), one point stuck out in my mind: nonprofits have benefitted from the assumption that they are normally good, moral, and right. We all have a goal, most of which could be summed up as “helping people”. I mean, really, who doesn’t want to help people? Who is against helping people? No one. Everyone supports that general cause.
Unfortunately, however, the 2007 Edelman Trust Barometer showed that nonprofits were not the most trusted institutions in almost half of the countries surveyed. What could be causing this distrust? Failure. When nonprofits fail to “help people”, people lose faith. They think, “well, if the Red Cross couldn’t do it, and the Salvation Army couldn’t do it, then how will THESE fools do it?” What our job is then, is to prove them wrong.
Even when we are seeing our colleague organizations crumbling or dealing with hard times, we must strive forward and continue to reach for our own goals. We cannot get bogged down with the bad rap or the bad image that may have come with the nonprofit name as a result of a few bad eggs. We must continue the struggle to serve the communities around us.
This semester has shown a lot of traps or holes that nonprofit leaders are susceptible to. Hopefully, this blog has provided some insight as to how to avoid those traps and take the path to success. Ensuring representativeness of board members, ensuring mission-driven choices, sharing resources with each other, opening our minds to new methods and ideas, and ensuring we are following the regulations required will all allow nonprofits to succeed and prove that we are overall good.