Some of the best advice I ever received was to not waste my passion in arguing with someone who is starting with an entirely different set of precepts. It's not that I have always been able to adhere to this wisdom, but when I have slipped into arguments where the other person and I share no fundamental beliefs, they have been enormously time consuming, frustrating, and ultimately fruitless. Sometimes you just have to find a different way to change a thing — by altering a law perhaps or through public embarrassment or by organizing others to refuse to participate in something you find abhorrent. Some of my best friends in this sector have excelled at such stuff.
Of course, when the other party has lots of power or money — and you not so much — you need their money to do your work ( we're talking about funders here) and this can get dicey. They are your intimate partners. So not arguing back in cases where you disagree with a funder is a slippery slope with a dark well at the bottom. Often — even if we think their precepts are wrong — if we are seeking funding, we end up trying to speak enough of their language to try to win a little concession here or there. This can cause us to lose our way.
Sometimes, come what may, you just have to speak with the power of conviction even if it offends.
We can always count on Pablo Eisenberg to act as a role model in this regard. As with any critic, he is denounced, decried, and feared and yet valued for his ability to neatly flay a sensitive subject like you would a flounder.
In the article linked below, Pablo takes on a recently published book entitled The Foundation: A Great American Secret; How Private Wealth is Changing the World, by Joel Fleishman who has a long history in and around the larger of this country's foundations. Pablo appears less than enamored with Fleishman's foundational beliefs, but I will let him speak for himself with his usual eloquence in his article entitled "Fleishman's World-An Essay."
Meanwhile, don't delay in subscribing and in a month you will be able to put your feet up to enjoy the Spring 2007 issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly. The topic is nonprofit finance, but there is also a great article on how to ensure that your organization remains stable even in the face of an executive transition.
As always, let us know what you think about our featured article!