Leave Your Ego at the Nonprofit Boardroom Door

Posted on May 13, 2011 by Pam Truitt

A group of Sarasota’s community leaders had the opportunity on April 19-20, 2011 to spend quality time with Lois Savage, President of The Lodestar Foundation in Phoenix.  As a way to introduce Lois to the beautiful community we call Sarasota, we asked each guest to share his or her name, day job and a ‘frustration’ in working with nonprofits.

If you aren’t from the Sarasota area, you likely don’t know our community dynamics or have an appreciation that the vast majority of business and community leaders are involved in nonprofits. Now, I don’t want readers to interpret this blog as a free-for-all to bash nonprofits. It’s not. But, with more than 1,500 nonprofits in Sarasota (2009 data), there is room to express frustrations.

And what was the No. 1 frustration? Egos.

Is anyone surprised?  Does everyone think talking about egos is a tired subject? We might be worn-out, but egos are a significant challenge for nonprofits that need to focus on mission.   Guest Grace Carlson summed it up: When you own your own company, you can call the shots, but when you are on the board of a nonprofit with a mission, you can’t.

Grace’s observation opens the door for wonder. Do board members use their best talents?  Do board members use their business acumen to drive a nonprofit’s mission—or are they driven by egos? Do egos get in the way of meeting the mission?

The Patterson Foundation’s Collaborative Restructuring Initiative is listening to thought leaders on what makes successful collaborations. I would like to hear from you! While you are pondering your own thoughts, see what Lois Savage has to say on what business executives need to know about collaboration:http://www.youtube.com/user/ThePattersonFdn

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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