Providing MORE Community Benefit in Tough Times

© ReSolve, Inc. 2009

Q: How can we provide what our community needs as our cash resources decline?

A: In tough times, our communities need us even more than usual. This is true for human services, but it is also true the arts, recreation, education. People continue to need ways to express themselves, ways of gathering together, to continue learning and growing. This is what keeps us sane while times are hard, and what leaves communities poised for greatness when things get better.

The answer to accomplishing what our communities need from us is not to work harder at finding money. The answer is to begin asking a completely different set of questions:

1) What does our community need?

2) What will it take to provide that?

And while these questions should be asked at every board meeting, there is a more effective place to ask these questions. To truly provide what the community needs, those questions will rise above just your organization. You will instead ask those questions in groups of organizational leaders from around the community.

If your organization is a food bank, worried about increased need and decreased donations, what might happen if you gathered all the poverty-related organizations in your community to ask those two questions? What might happen if you gathered all the arts groups? All the education groups?

Once you gather, instead of asking what seems to be the only question being asked these days - “How can we work together to raise money?” - what would happen if you stopped focusing on money and started asking those community-driven questions? What would happen if you aimed NOT at the means (money), but the end results?

Picture this: A group of 20 organizations approaches a group of funders, saying, “We have a plan to accomplish what our community needs. It will take all of us, and we know what each of us will do to accomplish it. We need your help so we can make our community strong.”

Do you know a funder who wouldn’t jump at the chance to help?

When we work together, we build on our collective strengths. We build on our interconnectedness. We inspire each other. We create systems that are stronger, because they are not focused on “my organization” but on the only thing that matters: Holding ourselves accountable for creating a better future for our communities.

So then, here is Question 3, to add to the two questions noted above:

What could we accomplish together that we would struggle to accomplish separately?
What could we do together that we simply cannot do apart?

What you will find as you gather is that it might just be possible to accomplish MORE for your community in tough times than you ever accomplished during good times.

And we hope you will let us know what happens!

How to hold yourselves accountable for creating a great future for your community AND your organization? Click

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