We wonder why no one really understands the work we do as community foundations when our “strategy” is all over the board. We adopt 8 different strategic directions, with 8-10 major action items under each. This lack of focus stretches even the best staff (and board) to the breaking point and impacts both the quality of the foundation’s work and it responsiveness. In this environment, important things can get dropped or fall through the cracks.
As a firm, our response to this dilemma is to help foundations create and understand a vision of what their community needs them to become. Based on that vision, we help the foundation simplify its work by honing in on the 2-3 “big picture” focus areas that will most effectively push it toward the vision, along with a small set of strategies and actions.
Community foundations need to be responsive and nimble organizations, but this needs to be done within some kind of framework. The days where we could “be all things to all people” are long gone. We have to understand that we are not the solution for every situation. Our business models can’t support it, our people can’t sustain it, and most importantly, our communities don’t need us to play that role.