Over the past year at B-Word/Bitch we have been talking about growing. And doing some growing, too. But within these discussions there are some fundamental questions that not just B-Word contends with, but many, if not most, non-profits.
When is enough, enough?
When have we grown enough? How do we stay grassroots and evolve? When is the evolution over?
Sometimes I wonder if capitalism is at the root of this, an inner need of many, including seemingly 'self-less' individuals (myself included) who work in the non-profit sector, to become the "biggest and best" at their non-profit. I am not necessarily relating all the questions to Bitch, but more thinking of other non-profits I see, or have worked and volunteered at. Some of these questions seem to permeate all of us.
Does this endless pursuit of growing larger actually take away from the work that an organization is accomplishing? Does it water down the mission, spread it too thin and turn it into a large wheel full of policies and procedures and accounting departments and chasing foundation funding? Do we start 'spinning' our organization in order to raise money and visability and attract certain donors or groups of people?
This post is a result of questions and thoughts spinning in my head for months, if not years. And while I know the questions are not black and white, I also know that other folks out there are experiencing the same questions and are trying to sort out the gray.
Any answers out there?
2 Comments Have Been Posted
At what cost, growth?
Katherine replied on
I am so glad to see the above thoughts floated as I would really hate to see Bitch change from what it is into a behemoth.
I do believe this is a question of knowing when enough is enough and not being seduced by greed. Of course, people want their companies / non profits / self run businesses to be accessible and successful at some level. But I think that, along the way, greed enters into the equation (whether in the form of more money, more prestige, more awards, more funding) and the fundamental basis on which the organisation was founded erodes.
Isn't this yet another symptom of the More, More, More disease prevalent in society today?
Another idea I've been tossing around in my head is whether the corporate life cycle is actually true (essentially a company / organisation is either growing or in decline) and if, as I was told by many a business person, this model can be / should be used for any body (corporate or otherwise).
I believe there is an alternative. But I do acknowledge that those alternatives have a hard time surviving alongside mega-bodies keen on growth (take a mom & pop business that did steady returns for decades only to be run out of business by a growing corporate chain). I know I'm not distinguishing between non profits and for profit companies here but I intentionally do not do so because I think the greed behind the growth of either is the same. I suppose it irks me more when I see it in a non profit because I (foolishly?) expect more from the non profit world.
I think we have to consciously not buy into the fallacy of More, More, More and act accordingly.
And interestingly, I know this is a tenuous example, but isn't this one of the reasons why our national polititians are so completely lacking in personality (Barack Obama aside) - in wanting to "grow" their audience to include everyone their message becomes diluted and they succeed in successfully touching no one.
Evolution is never over.
she replied on
A few thoughts from a long time non-profit employee, but also someone that admittedly wants to see Bitch grow and grow. I am all the more excited about B-Word's growth because as a group you are willing to struggle with these conversations and transitions as an organization. Thanks for opening the conversation up even more to your community.
-What does the term 'grassroots' even really mean? Does it mean that you are small? That you scrape by every budget cycle? Or is it that your work is mainly done by volunteers? Or your funding is mostly through small donations? Let the mission of B-Word/Bitch and the goals of the organization guide the way. Think about all of the work that has yet to be done and all of the people that have yet to be touched by all of your hard work and insight. And there is also all of the people whose hard work and insight has yet to be heard. Grassroots, grasstops, whatever the lingo you use, the approach, attitude, and authenticity you have with your supporters and community is how you evolve and remain viable.
-enough is enough when a feminist response to pop culture is no longer needed or wanted, and I don't see that coming anytime soon.
-and evolution is never over, that's why it's called evolution. Now revolution, that's another story.
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