Many Hands . . . (Jun 06)

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The last few weeks have been a humbling experience for the Nonprofit Quarterly as we moved into our offices. Our email still isn’t consistently up – not good for a publication that functions on deadlines with a lot of external writers and advisors. Our secondhand phones have quirks all unto themselves, and the elevator has this weird jumpy thing it does that has been disconcerting to our visitors.
We also spent a day without the ladies’ room key and, as a result, got to know the nice people at the nail salon next door pretty well.
Still, it reminds us who we really are – a modest size nonprofit with a really big mission – some of which we have already accomplished – and lots of very dedicated friends who will see us through the rough spots by adding to our momentum with their energy.
And isn’t that dynamic at the heart of who nonprofits are?
When we were facing our spin-off, I took heart and instruction from a story I heard about the turnaround of a symphony orchestra in Calgary. It seemed to me to epitomize how nonprofits can become far more powerful – even when they are in a deep rut and threatened with immediate extinction – by engaging their stakeholders in core decision making. As you will see from reading this phenomenal tale, “ Phoenix in Calgary” sometimes it is the counterintuitive act that saves us.
Donna Finley, who told this story in one of the sessions at the last ARNOVA conference, is one of those people who – even while they love order – trust chaos to reveal the right order albeit with a lot of grindingly hard work.
I strive to be like her and I trust that by next week NPQ will be back on the grid.