I keep three stacks of reading materials. One stack is “leisure reading,” another is “need to read” and the last is “must read this week.” Somehow, a document titled The Performance Imperative landed in leisure reading, when it should have been in a stack all by itself – “read now!”
Here’s a bit of background.
“The Performance Imperative: A Framework for Social Sector Excellence” is the result of a year’s worth of collaborative work by the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community. If Leap of Reason rings a bell, you’ll remember this as the title of a book by Mario Marino in which he made the case for outcomes-based management in the nonprofit world and used this work to issue a call to action for leaders in the field.
- “Inspire, motivate and support nonprofit and public sector leaders (and their stakeholders) to build great organizations for greater societal impact; and
- “Increase the expectation and adoption of high performance and the path toward that end.”
This group worked together to craft a definition of “high-performance organizations” and determined that “high performance is the ability to deliver – over a prolonged period of time – meaningful, measurable and financially sustainable results for people or causes the organization is in existence to serve.” They also developed seven organizational pillars that can and should be used by nonprofit boards, nonprofit executives, funders and public agencies, professors, management and evaluation consultants and websites for nonprofit ratings and information. In short, anyone who worked with or around the nonprofit world should pay attention to these seven pillars, which are:
- Courageous, adaptive executive and board leadership (the most important pillar)
- Disciplined, people-focused management
- Well-designed and well-implemented programs and strategies
- Financial health and sustainability
- A culture that values learning
- Internal monitoring for continuous improvement
- External evaluation for mission effectiveness
So why am I asking my staff to move this to their “read now!” stack? Because as Jim Collins said, “Good is the enemy of great,” and high-performance matters. Sure, enthusiasm and vision are important but a formula of sound analysis + grounded assumptions + appropriate assessments yields a high-performance model that nonprofits and their leaders can use to remain relevant and grow their people and organizations.
In upcoming blogs, we’ll look at the pillars more closely and share some great work of our Ohio colleagues.
Suzanne T. Allen, Ph.D.
In between rain downpours and mere summer showers, many of us are getting ready for a brief respite someplace sunnier and warmer than this year’s Ohio summer. Whether you’re looking forward to hanging out at home, going to a favorite beach, lake or mountain venue, if you’re like me you’re looking for some good reading material to take along on your week off. If we lived in Europe, we’d have the whole month of August for holiday and could read them all. But since few of us can take that much time away, consider tucking one of these good reads into your travel bag as you head off.
The Happiness Advantage
Psychologist Shawn Achor writes in accessible, non-jargon language about how we’ve got it all backwards – we think we should work to be happy – and then lays out a path for how to take control of our own happiness and lead productive lives. This was one of two books the Philanthropy Ohio staff read this past spring. Watch his great TED talk, and then pick up the book.
Dreamland: the True Tale of America’s Opiate Addiction
Former LA Times reporter Sam Quinones traces the historical roots of the epidemic that threatens the health of thousands of people and their communities and reveals a frightening picture of how heroin has become so pervasive across America. His thoughtful research reaches into Columbus and southeastern Ohio, showing how Mexican heroin has permeated urban, suburban and rural areas without regard to income, race or gender.
Strategic Philanthropy and its Discontents
Paul Brest is a recognized deep thinker in philanthropy, having led the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and now as Professor Emeritus and Co-Director of the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society at Stanford University. In his essay (complete with footnotes), Brest takes on the difficult tasks of untangling the various definitions of “strategic philanthropy” and then turns to a discussion of its practices, particularly as they relate to relationships between funders and grantees. It was written for a symposium of people gathered from the U.S. and Europe at Stanford University to discuss strategic philanthropy and is shared on the Stanford Social Innovation Review website.
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
When Philanthropy Ohio adopted Diversity Principles and created a board-level Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, it signaled its strong intent to help Ohio funders understand the importance of paying attention to diversity defined very broadly. We created a CEO Leadership Circle where foundation leaders learned from each other about the practices and policies that could diversify their staff and boards, grantees and vendors. We were also a founding member of D5, a national project that engages philanthropic organizations in work to grow their diversity, equity and inclusion. D5 has extensive resources on its site, from reports on the diversity of the philanthropic sector to research and tools to advance DEI.
As part of our ongoing work, we invited Robert Jaquay, associate director at The George Gund Foundation, to review Diversity Explosion: How New Racial Demographics Are Remaking America by William H. Frey. The book explains the coming racial diversity in Ohio and the nation, important information that Bob summarizes in this review.
Fast-paced demographic change will dramatically alter American life, according to Diversity Explosion, a new book by widely-respected demographer William Frey. By 2040 – possibly sooner – no racial group will constitute a majority in the U.S. Further, as multiracial marriages become far more commonplace, a significant portion of the American populace will no longer identify with any specific racial group.
William Frey, a University of Michigan Professor and Fellow at the Brookings Institution, recognizes that the massive Baby Boom generation (born between 1946 and 1964) has exerted political and economic clout to shape America in fundamental ways: the evolving role of women and increased suburbanization are but two powerful examples. Yet, due to low immigration, reduced fertility and aging among the predominantly white Boomers, Frey projects that America’s white population will begin to decline in the next 10 years.
Conversely, within the cohort of newborn Americans, 2011 was a very significant year in that for the first time in the history of the country, more minority babies were born than white babies. This is a trend that William Frey sees accelerating in the years to come. Indeed, over the next 40 years, Hispanics, Asians and multi-racial populations in the U.S. are each projected to more than double. As this newest cohort forms and ages, increased racial diversity now noticeable in maternity wards will become apparent in American schools. In turn, the workplace, consumer markets, media, politics and every other aspect of American life will be increasingly diverse.
Dr. Frey also projects that diversity will spread geographically across the country. He notes that in 1990 only five of the 100 largest metropolitan areas were minority white, all in the south and southwest. By the 2010 census, there were 22. The next census will likely document a continuation of the diversity spread, increasingly toward the north and east.
Numerous references to specific racial group demographic shifts occurring in Columbus and Cleveland appear in the book in context of discussing national trends. Additionally, our state and its counties are depicted in the dozens of maps and charts spread throughout the book. Nonetheless, how the Diversity Explosion will play out in Ohio in the years to come is not entirely clear.
Obviously, Dr. Frey’s book is focused upon race. It is important to note that other characteristics and classes such as gender identity/expression, disability, sexual orientation and veteran status are not the focus of Diversity Explosion.
Nevertheless, despite these limitations, those engaged in Philanthropy Ohio’s vital discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion will find Diversity Explosion to be essential reading. This book prompts necessary questions to constructive discourse in Ohio. Such questions include:
- Is our definition of diversity sufficiently expansive?
- In discussing inclusion, are we considering community demographics with a sufficiently long-range view of, say 10, or even 25 years?
- How do urban neighborhoods, suburbs and rural communities of Ohio properly fit in the conversation?
- How can we build neighborhoods that allow for real interaction among people of differing age, race and class?
Diversity Explosion also seems to match the spirit of Philanthropy Ohio’s discernment on questions of race and class that are so important to our institutions and the Ohio communities we serve. William Frey writes so that his readers can “appreciate the sheer magnitude of change being wrought by America’s new racial minorities and be prepared to embrace it.”
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
PHILANTHROPY FORWARD ’15 showcases all this and more in the year’s most important learning and networking event for Ohio funders. Here are just a few examples of what the conference offers to Ohio funders heading to Cincinnati on September 16 for three days of intense learning and connecting.
Over 25 break-out sessions address your daily challenges, covering topics that include board governance, investing, managing collaborations, racial equity, gender issues, college completion, criminal justice reform: the list goes on and on, with something for everyone at every level of experience.
Networking galore will connect you with colleagues.
Meet up during designated networking breaks, dine-arounds and the Welcome Party, a lively celebration featuring the rich German heritage of southwest Ohio, complete with music, food and beverages.
Learning tours will highlight Cincinnati projects.
Visit a school-based health and dental center to see how funders collaborated to make a difference in the lives of Cincinnati’s children and teens or explore People’s Liberty, an 8,000 square foot philanthropic lab that brings together civic-minded talent to address challenges and uncover opportunities to accelerate positive community transformation.
Whether you’re new to philanthropy or have years of experience, we guarantee you’ll build your knowledge and network at this year’s conference. Check out the agenda, book your hotel room and register today!
Claudia Y.W. Herrold
We’re accepting nominations for our annual awards recognizing phenomenal Ohio philanthropists, including a new one created this year to recognize a board member who passed away in March.
We are very excited about this new award, The Michael G. Shinn Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Philanthropy, which honors Mr. Shinn’s dedication to this important work in modern-day America. The award will recognize an individual who has demonstrated a significant commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in his/her philanthropic practice in Ohio.
Mr. Shinn was the founder of the Shinn Family Foundation and served as secretary of Philanthropy Ohio’s Board of Trustees until his death in March 2015. He chaired our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, taking on primary responsibility for guiding Philanthropy Ohio’s efforts in that arena. The Philanthropy Ohio Board of Trustees created the award to honor his memory and will present it for the first time this year.
We are also accepting nominations for three other awards. First is the Ohio Philanthropy Award, which honors an organization or individual who has made outstanding contributions to philanthropy by demonstrating long-standing leadership in advancing philanthropy, creativity in responding to societal problems or a significant positive impact on philanthropy.
The Philanthropy Innovation Award recognizes someone who has moved Ohio philanthropy forward through an innovation or implemented an idea that led to positive change in how the philanthropic sector operates, thinks or impacts communities. The Emerging Philanthropist Award celebrates someone who – regardless of age – has engaged in philanthropy for the first time during the last few years, either in a career path or as a private individual, and shows amazing potential.
Nominations close August 3 so that the Board of Trustees can make selections in time for the award ceremonies scheduled for September 16 – 18 in Cincinnati during our Philanthropy Forward ’15 conference.
Call us at 614.224.1344 if you have questions and stay tuned for announcements about the winners!
Claudia Y.W. Herrold