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How Shall I Tell You?

I know I promised you a follow-up on the CompassPoint webinar.  But I have been working long hours on behalf of PLK clients for the past few weeks and there’s been some success, some roadblocks, some resistance, some disappointments, some conflicts and yes, some triumphs.  The usual.

The webinar was interesting.  Participants from all over the country (who identified mostly as consultants) listened intently as a panel (mostly consultants) talked about how other consultants weren’t as good as they were.  Not exactly what I expected.

The central question was on whether consultants do more harm than good.  Does the profit motive dominate decision-making in client acquisition and project management?  Do consultants allow clients to wander, squandering time in service of their own bottom line?  Are social sector consultants the problem…not the social sector organizations?

Mostly, organizations know what they are supposed to do to be successful.  Really, they do – they just don’t or can’t do what’s necessary to build a sustainable culture of philanthropy.  Excuses abound.  They hire a consultant like me to make it work.  And sometimes it does work.  But sometimes no one really wants to put in the sweat equity it takes to grow and succeed.  They want magic.  And they want a consultant who doesn’t really tell them the truth.  They want a sugar-coated version of the truth – the one where their rescue fantasies are fulfilled by the donor carrying large bags of cash into the front door.

It’s hard raising money and growing affinity and leadership.  It’s hard getting everyone – staff, board, volunteers and community on the same page about mission and execution.  But it’s not impossible.

If you are not ready to hear what your consultant has to say, then you are not ready for a consultant.  If your consultant does not tell you what you know you need to hear, then get a new consultant.  Because you do know what you have to do and a good consultant can be a catalyst.

So…how shall I tell you?  Do you want the truth?  Do you want to make positive systemic change?  Or do you want the fairytale?

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