Taking Risks…

Interesting link between the philosophy of taking risks on unproven players (like current NBA New York Knicks sensation Jeremy Lin) and the importance of taking risks in philanthropy – both as donors and as non-profit organizations reliant upon philanthropic dollars.

This quote from Nathan Cummings Foundation trustee Jaimie Mayer Phinney stuck with me: “I think we really need to take risks. The reason why nonprofits aren’t taking risks is because they are worried about losing funding. And the reason why philanthropists aren’t taking risks is because we are worried about being good stewards to the money.”

I’ve spoken and written in the past on the importance of thinking entrepreneurially – even more so in tough times. Organizations that simply retreat and become more conservative in down times will not be well-positioned to benefit from good times, and in fact run the risk of alienating their donors and constituents. It’s never more important to tell your story and steward relationships than in tough times when donors are themselves more apt to retreat and become more conservative with their giving. If you aren’t telling your story and maintaining those relationships, a dozen other non-profits will take your place quickly, and will benefit from donors’ philanthropy when times improve.


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