Leadership shows what matters most


What is the difference between a non-profit and a for-profit organization?

Non-profits are organizations that invest their revenues back into the organization to achieve their goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. So my question is: are some of our local non-profits actually operating like poverty pimps?

To be clear, poverty pimp is a label used to convey that an individual or group is benefiting unduly by acting as an intermediary on behalf of the poor, the disadvantaged or some other ”victimized” group. These organizations use power statements such as … To empower residents through programming … to improve the quality of life … but the only real quality of life that is improving is the life of its employees, or contract labor.

Why are so many programs not reaching their full potential in helping the people of their vision / mission? Some non-profits that are receiving funding seem to feed the resources into salaries of its employees and not the programs.

Where is the empowering of the people? Where is quality of life improvement being seen? Having stagnated, non-productive meetings about manipulated issues that are vague, and do not produce any opportunity of change to the quality of life for the residents of the community, has gotten old and outdated.

In the meantime our economically challenged areas, i.e. neighborhoods which are usually populated by the poor, working or disabled residents continue to decay and die. However, some organizations rather invest in unproductive staff by providing wage increases of 5 percent to 8 percent without merit, instead of investing in programs that support the mission and vision statement.

These positions are so lucrative and exclusive; who do you have to know to get hired? We often cry about nepotism and corruption in local government, what about non-profit organizations that receive public money from government agencies? Is it ok for them to only hire from within their own social circles?

Poor results, which are different than media hits, can be directly tied to the leadership that lack basic training and basic management skills. On the other hand it could be attributed to leadership that is not really interested in changing the lives of “those people” for whatever reason.

We need leadership that: develops its people, helps them understand how they contribute to the organization reaching it goals, is able to transcend their own interest, understand their individual vision must be rooted in causes bigger than them. Good leadership focuses on what matters most, and if serving the people of your mission statement isn’t what matters most, then you are in the wrong business. Without good leadership we are subject to a system that readily feeds the machine of poverty by the hands of those who say they are trying to dismantle it.

Joan S. Sullivan