Single Mission, Dual Purpose, or Trifecta?

“The Nonprofit Management Fund improves the management effectiveness and efficiency of nonprofit organizations and increases the resources for nonprofit management in the greater Milwaukee area.”

From the beginning, there have been two parts to the mission of the Fund.  

The first level focuses on enabling a nonprofit organization to build its capacity in order to more effectively address its mission. The Fund awarded small grants for a nonprofit to engage an external resource, which was usually, but not always, a consultant.

The second part of the mission encourages the Fund to invest in the local nonprofit infrastructure.

We’ve had many discussions over the years about changing the mission through wordsmithing or refocusing, but we always decided to not make any changes. During those discussions, about half of the committee members wanted to focus on the grants to the organizations; the other half wanted to create more resources for all nonprofits to take advantage of them.

However, in hindsight, maybe there should have been a third part to the mission.

When we started in 1994, we were the first funders’ collaborative in Wisconsin, and one of only a handful in the country,  perhaps we should have acknowledged our ignorance and stated to the world that we wanted to learn about creating a new breed of philanthropy.

Should we have added something like “and documents the development of a new giving model”?

What do you think?

3 comments | Add a New Comment
1. Nicole | March 13, 2014 at 08:59 AM EDT

Nice photos! I think what you've described is a worthy activity of the Fund, but should not necessarily be articulated within the mission statement.

2. Karen Higgins | March 13, 2014 at 10:14 AM EDT

I think the Nonprofit Management Fund was a new giving model. Could it have explored further what that means? Unequivocally I would say yes. Does it take away from what it accomplished. No.

3. Scott Gelzer | March 13, 2014 at 01:31 PM EDT

Pat, this is an interesting observation. The Nonprofit Management Fund has been evaluated on several occasions, ranging from committee review to a full, third-party assessment. The levels of \trust\ from both the applicant side (revealing organizational weaknesses) and the donor side (the funded solutions are determined by the applicant) has not been fully assessed.

The rhetoric and ceremony of fundraising often celebrates partnership. The Fund came as close as anything many of us have done to create an equal partnership between donor and applicant.

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