Opinion/About change – Change demands leadership

By Todd Cohen

Charities need to get over it.

Behind their good work and the smile they flash in public, charities can be muddled, misguided and mean.

Some are weak at the seams but cannot see it. Others bristle at criticism, fight tougher oversight and claw for more turf.

If they do not clean up the mess they are in, charities risk losing the trust they need.

America could not function without charities.

But if they do not retool, charities cannot tackle our urgent social challenges.

Charities must make it their business to overhaul the way they do business.

That means assessing their organization and operations from top to bottom, finding ways to measure their impact and effectiveness, and figuring out how to truly work together.

Despite the lip service they pay to “collaboration,” many charities expect its benefits without actually giving up control or turf to “partners.”

Some charities also fall prey to “founder’s syndrome,” hamstrung by founding executive directors who hoard power and will not share it with board or staff.

Social progress requires charities that can help fix social ills.

First, though, they must fix themselves, and that takes leaders who can listen and change.

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