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Fighting burnout

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Charities need booster shot from boards, funders

By Todd Cohen

[04.21.04] – Charities need respect.

The heart and soul of communities, they serve the neediest, and clean up the mess of a self-absorbed society.

Yet they are taken for granted.

Many boards expect charities to operate on a shoestring, and fail to contribute hands-on support for fundraising and operations.

And many funders prefer to fund programs, failing to see they are only as good as the operations supporting them.

Charities work hard and make it look easy, but shortchanging them takes its toll.

Except for shamelessly fat deals for some boards and executives, the hours for charity’s rank and file are long, and the pay disgracefully low.

And those workers can take only so much before they burn out or get fed up hitting their heads against walls built by boards and funders blind to charities’ core needs.

Serving on a board is not a perk but a critical job, and working for a foundation does not bestow wisdom but demands its use.

Charities need help, including good pay and benefits, smart and continuous training, effective and enterprising business plans, productive technology, committed boards and clear-thinking funders.

Fixing and healing our communities depends on healthy charities, which will thrive only when nurtured.


Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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