The antiquated world of Foundations

ImagesI got an email this week from a friend who has built two
incredible non-profit organizations.  One
of them is a household name.  She is on
her third.  She is brilliant, has serious
tenacity and has changed more lives than I can count.  I love her spirit. 

She wanted 30 minutes of my time for some advice.  She was frustrated with the world of
foundations.  She is building a
non-profit that will help teens at risk but really doesn’t have any concrete
numbers that the foundation is looking for. 
The site has launched and there is no doubt she is getting traction but
what the foundation needs is information that she just doesn’t have yet.  If she was building a profit organization
based on what she has done, she would get angel investing or VC funding in a

She wanted to knowif  should she just suck it up and figure out
how to get the foundations something or try to change the insanity of how the
foundations work.  There is a huge
disconnect between how foundations fund and what non-profits need.  I told her to suck it up and figure out how
to change that world at another time.

 The system is seriously broken.  I am sure that the majority of large
foundations that were set-up by some very entrepreneurial families would be
rolling over in their graves if they knew how decisions were being made and the
layers of red tape (aka money being spent) to make a decision. 

Once a foundation makes a decision, you generally do not
hear from them again.  That would not
happen in a profit world.  You want
experts involved.   I’d like to see one
of the big foundations such as Ford, Rockefeller, Knight to change the way
decision making is done, follow-up is being done, involvement and everything
starting from the top.  These
organizations have the financial means to get behind something and make a
difference.  Many non-profits need to
figure out how to be sustainable and they could help. 

People like my friend are making a serious difference in the
world.  She shouldn’t be frustrated.  It is her calling.  If she has chosen the profit world then she
would not be in this position and she might not have made the impact in our
world that she has made.  I am done with
the word disruption but this is an industry that really needs to be