Monday, July 14, 2008

City of Redmond Offers to Bail Out Redmond Humane Society Whose Board Allegedly Did No Fundraising...

The city of Redmond is going to try to bail the Redmond Humane Society out of its financial peril.

I've said it before in this blog. If you are a leader of a nonprofit...whether a volunteer leader, such as a board member, or if you are a paid leader, perhaps an executive director; and you are charged (e.g. by law, by your job description, by the nonprofit's bylaws, or by any official rule or direction) to fundraise and oversee the nonprofit you have a job to do as sure as if you were working a 'hundred thousand dollar annual salary plus benefits, nine to five, working all work days except vacations and holidays' job. Again...yes, really and truly.

If you begin to volunteer for, are hired by, or in anyway take a volunteer or paid position with a nonprofit and do not know how to raise funds or how to oversee a nonprofit (e.g. according to the organization's bylaws and federal laws (at a minimum, if not state and county laws, etc.) such as Sarbanes Oxley which requires board members to be accountable to bookkeeping, record keeping, and oversight...then go be proactive and learn modern, effective, transparent nonprofit management, operations, oversight, fundraising, etc. It is your responsibility, so be responsible. Learn, learn, learn; and learn these skills sooner than later.

Just because you are working for a nonprofit, maybe even as a volunteer, does not lessen how responsible you should be to modern and professional nonprofit practices. A job is a job. Every nonprofit operates to succeed at its mission. Today, nonprofits are expected to be good at their work; to be professional, to be successful, to conduct modern practices - not 'that's how we've always done it, so that's how we're going to do it' practices.

In no way is the nonprofit that you're volunteering for or working a paid position for in existence to make you comfortable. It exists to meet a need in our community and its constituents or whomever it serves must be first and foremost in all decision making, professionalism, management, and so on. You are there to work for the cause and be directed by the mission. You are not there to make things comfortable for you. Be responsible to the mission - learn!

Last year BendFilm (another local nonprofit) suddenly didn't have any more money. Why didn't Redmond Humane take their experience as a warning that they, themselves, should get on top of their respective jobs? Check out the lack of expertise, then at Fundraising Isn't Optional, Nonprofits...

I might lump this Redmond Humane story in with the likes of the Bellevue Art Museum's June 2007 embarrassment, "Wow, What A Shock! Another Example of Piss Poor Fundraising..."

Smaller communities may respond to my post by lamenting...'we don't have access to modern fundraising continuing education', or 'I wouldn't know where to find good resources to learn modern nonprofit operations practices'. Well...you need to do some research. You need to talk with managers of well-run nonprofits and ask for recommendations; you need to investigate who the regional nonprofit professional affiliations are in your area and find out what continuing education, forums, and conferences they provide; you need to research modern nonprofit operations on the Internet; etc. Be proactive, and responsible for your role. Perhaps you've begun to, if you're reading this... [My July 6th post,"Some Free Resources", provides information on where to learn the basic 'how to's of nonprofit work for free, how to find the best books on all aspects of nonprofit operations, fundraising, management, and more.]

I'm writing this post (as I have before, see above) based on a local news story that is still playing out. See:

July 3, 2008 Redmond Humane Society Faces Possible Closure
July 12, 2008 Humane Society of Redmond Finances Investigated

There appears to be a lot of resignations, firings, finger pointing, and even phoning the local Sheriff requesting an investigation! The board has allegedly fired the executive director for speaking about the potential closure to the local press (wouldn't folks have noticed when the local animal shelter suddenly closed, anyway?). Staff is sharing the board's job description and failure to fundraise with local press, anonymously, after a reported gag order imposed by the board requesting that the staff not talk with press. Hmmm...

Meanwhile, there are a lot of animals in need in the local community. It's too bad that the Redmond Humane Society's board isn't interested, according to allegations, in professional and current nonprofit management enough to alleviate the current issue, for the animals in need, or for the organization, itself. For our animals and that organization's purpose in our community - I hope that the city is successful, the board each and all resigns, and the executive director (who seems to be most concerned with the organization's work and the animals, of anyone there) is reinstated, and that every manager, there, takes the time and responsibility to learn how to do what it is they are a part of that organization to do, in modern professional terms.

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