Is your nonprofit serving individual people in need but not the underlying causes which brought people to your door in the first place?
During the 19th and early 20th centuries philanthropists and charities focused not only on providing cash and shelter to the needy but on education and moral reclamation- on turning lives around and getting people on the right track. It aimed to make its beneficiaries more self- sufficient and give them some tools to become part of main stream America.
This philosophy changed during the 1960’s with the focus shifting from the personal to the systemic, from the moral to the political where it was assumed that people in need were victims of the vast impersonal economy or racism that doomed them to failure regardless of their own individual efforts or inner qualities. With the best of intentions major foundations and philanthropic groups pushed for social action and government based welfare solutions which in turn trapped many into a life of dependency without getting at the basic root cause of individual problems. Trillions have been spent with no appreciable improvement or reduction in the level of need.
However, there has been positive progress to fix this issue. More attention is now being focused on life changing programs that will restore people to society. These center on rehabilitation and education which hopefully will allow people to reclaim their own personal lives and give them the tools needed to become self sufficient and productive citizens.
You might take a look at your nonprofit to see if you are doing what is needed to “fix” the person and not just solve the immediate problem.
Author: David Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org