By David Blais
FRAMINGHAM – The ownership of people.
I hate that term. Especially when its connects to nonprofits.
Nonprofits work every day to help others in their community but underlying much of their efforts is one emotion- fear.
Churches fearful of losing members
Food pantries fearful of losing their most vulnerable
Soup kitchens afraid of losing their homeless
The list goes on …
These are my people and if I want to keep my funding I need to own more of them. This is a familiar theme.
I was once told by the head of one of the largest nonprofits in Framingham that “If you do what you say you are going to do, I will lose my homeless.”
How sad that ownership of people trumps focusing on what is ethically right.
What is the result of such a mindset? Unwillingness to let people grow is one. If you own something you don’t want to let go. Build a big room, with a large door, so we can get people in but make sure the exit door is so small no one will notice the trap they are in.
How does this change? How do we get this ownership of people mindset out of the nonprofit world?
Donors control direction. Do a little research and you will quickly understand if an organization is worthy of your donation. Look at their payroll, is it in line with other nonprofits of their size? A small 8 million dollar a year nonprofit should have a president earning 125,000 not 300,000. Ask about what they provide. Are they giving people what they need or are they giving them what they have? These are great indicators of the organization’s focus.
In addition we see that the lack of real collaboration shows its ugly head every day as FEAR drives the duplication of services, events that are more a show of feel good public relations than an effective response to a true need and the conscious desire to crush other nonprofits at any cost.
The Grace House in Framingham served meals to the homeless and struggling population every weekend for 10 years, a few weeks ago the largest food provider in Framingham decided that it would be good for them to start duplicating the Grace House’s efforts.
Not because the community needed them to but because, in my opinion, they wanted to have a larger ownership population.
The Grace House, with its teams of volunteers, now have to make a choice. They were providing 70-140 meals each weekend day but now serve 10.
Do they continue their mission or do they end 10 years of public service to the evil of greed?
We may lose a great city asset to the most recent display of the ownership of people and that is heartbreaking.
David Blais is the founder of a non profit in Framingham