It is often difficult to find similarities between philanthropy and the commercial world (asking for a donation is not the same thing as sales). One area where commonality can be found is the drive for change. The impact of fundraising drives change within your organisation, your community and maybe even the world.
Driving change is hard and it can feel like you’re spinning multiple plates. This article by Colin Price from McKinsey is perhaps too commercially orientated for this site, but I hope you will find some interesting insights within it that you can apply in your fundraising career.
McKinsey research shows that the most successful organizations, over the long term, consistently focus on “enabling” things (leadership, purpose, employee motivation) whose immediate benefits aren’t always clear. These healthy organizations are internally aligned around a clear vision and strategy; can execute to a high quality thanks to strong capabilities, management processes, and employee motivation; and renew themselves more effectively than their rivals do. In short, health today drives performance tomorrow.
In this article, Colin focuses on three other paradoxes that are both particularly striking and quite difficult to reconcile. The first is that change comes about more easily and more quickly in organizations that keep some things stable. The second is that organizations are more likely to succeed if they simultaneously control and empower their employees. And the third is that business cultures that rightly encourage consistency (say, in the quality of services and products) must also allow for the sort of variability—and even failure—that goes with innovation and experimentation.
Coming to grips with these paradoxes will be invaluable for executives trying to keep their people and priorities in balance at a time when cultural and leadership change sometimes seems an existential imperative. Just as a circus performer deftly spins plates or bowls to keep them moving and upright, so must senior executives constantly intervene to encourage the sorts of behavior that align an organization with its top priorities.