Nonprofit Leaders and Their Conflicts

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It’s time once again for Ask Dr. Conflict!”

If you are conflict avoidant you probably should not aspire to lead a nonprofit, because it can be very VERY rough sometimes.

I wrote a newswire this morning about the board of a community college that has, by most accounts, essentially divided against itself—with one contingent doing perhaps more than a bit of “whistleblowing.” But the situation—at least from the outside—is confusing. The president of the college was trying to wrest a long-ago-made allocation of $20 million out of the sweaty hands of the state—and not just any state but Illinois, which is well known for gripping every contractual penny (at least with nonprofits) until they have to let it go, in service of its own cash flow. While the college is not nonprofit, the college’s foundation is, and it has problems of its own in the form of one-third of the board members who are also contractors/vendors of the college—some apparently without even having submitted a competitive bid.

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These kinds of complexities involving multiple stakeholders are not exactly foreign to nonprofits, and trying to resolve them can mean months, if not years, of conflict.

You may not have problems as severe as the one just described, but if you do have a conflict—or potential conflict—and need advice, you can e-mail NPQ’s own Dr. Conflict HERE to get his wisdom on ways to approach the problem. Please be descriptive so that Dr. Conflict is in possession of all the nuances and can get hold of the right lever.