Funding Non-Profits Will Change
Perhaps it is my age, how I think and because I have spent decades in the start-up world but I fear for the future of large non-profit institutions in our country such as museums, libraries and parks.
Some of these verticals are publicly funded while others are only privately funded. Those public funds are slowly dwindling and will not be as robust as they have in the past. Budgets are constantly changing and the private philanthropic sector will eventually be run by a different generation who want to see change and engagement differently than the last generation.
This past week I spent some time at a large institution learning about the organization. I was curious about the budget, the size of the board, the money they need to raise privately every year to survive but most of all I wanted to know how they were thinking about the future.
This is not the first conversation I have had with leaders in large non-profit institutions in the culture world. They are all sitting on massive assets from content to real estate. Why are they not capturing every email that visits, why are they not capturing what each individual is looking at or reading when it comes to the library? That is important data. Why are they not figuring out how to share their assets with the world through books, content and on-line communities. Why aren’t they figuring out how to create multiple events that pull people in from all over to listen to speakers, create conversation, engage in something unique? Why aren’t they making sure that everyone who touches the organization feels connected to it? Why aren’t they thinking about what is necessary to keep growing with the future and being able to pay the bills with creative commerce that fits with the mission instead of the ways of the past? Why aren’t they creating restaurants inside of them? Why aren’t they creating more kids and family activities?
Ok, enough already. I continue to point to the MET who couldn’t raise enough capital to make a budget one year and they had to cut the staff in half. They had to rethink their operation. Certainly they can exist with less as most of these organizations are too big to fail but they could be oh so much more.
This is an issue that nobody is really talking about but my gut is that this is eventually going to be a bigger issue when the tides of expectations around philanthropic capital and public budgets shift dramatically. I have to ask where are all the boards on this? Why aren’t they pushing for more leadership and change?