“The business of changing the world has been reduced, too often, to a financial transaction. It has become too much about money and not enough about people. It is often so much about privilege and power – about power, not empowerment” ((Me)volution, 2012).
Simone Joyaux speaks passionately about real world change in her (Me)volution chapter about empowerment. Joyaux believes in the power individuals possess and dissects how it should be used and shared to help others. Our power does not lie solely in donations; it is about sharing the power we have.
An organization holds a tremendous amount of power. Programs are defined by the needs of a community and controlled by the money of an organization. Watchful eyes make sure quotas are met and we remain inside our mandates. Organizations mean well, but it is time to release the reins of control.
Every organization asks for feedback from donors, volunteers, employees and the community. Where does this feedback get filed? If you aren’t a major donor, the answer is often the garbage. And rightfully so – there is so much going on in a development office it seems ridiculous to reorganize and start taking advice from untrained individuals.
Or is it?
It’s time to get back to our roots. We are here for the community, so let’s give them an opportunity to truly provide feedback. Start by creating a committee in your organization to wade through the feedback. Let them judge what is worthwhile for the organization to consider. Start a dialogue with the community. Having conversations with the community does not mean that every suggestion has to be acted upon – but the conversation itself is the first action.
This shouldn’t be viewed as work, but rather, encouragement. People care deeply enough about your organization and the work you produce that they want you to continue. Empower your community. Show them that your organization does care; that your stakeholders are more than just financial transactions.
Beware of founder’s syndrome when it comes to sharing your (me)volution and organization. A cause doesn’t belong to any one person, no matter how much time and support you have provided. Empowering others to believe in your vision and be a leader is how real change will be created. Would you like to see your movement or organization succeed or would you like to be standing at the top with no change to show?
Holding too closely to your movement and organization is typical. Why do we do it? Because we are trying to create change, and releasing that control is scary. What if something goes haywire? Well, what if something changes?! Let’s change the norm of how we run things; let’s release control and empower others – because something different than the norm creates more possibility. Isn’t that why we do what we do?
Let your organization work differently. Let it belong to others. Be proactive with your community’s feedback. Create real forums in which individuals will gain tangible feedback and encouragement. Share your vision and multiply.
Empower others and watch the change follow.
Christina Hemens was drawn to philanthropy while growing up in Muskoka, Ontario. At Concordia University in Montreal, she honed her philanthropic spirit and passion for fundraising. After completing her post-graduate certification in Fundraising and Volunteer Management from Humber College she is now Marketing and Communications Coordinator at (Me)volution, where she is able to create a positive difference in her lifetime.