A lesson from a previous generation.
What can we learn from The Fog of War? What does Robert MacNamara’s experience of the Vietnam War have to teach us about fundraising?
“Our judgments of friend and foe, alike, reflected our profound ignorance of the history, culture, and politics of the people in the area, and the personalities and habits of their leaders.”
What are you assuming about your donors? About your members and constituents? What are you assuming about the culture of people you are helping, versus the people you ask for support?
“We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health and employment.”
If we have failed, what are we doing about it? Who is drawing this to our attention? How are you drawing this truth to the attention of your supporters?
“Corporate executives must recognize there is no contradiction between a soft heart and a hard head. Of course, they have responsibilities to stockholders, but they also have responsibilities to their employees, their customers and to society as a whole.”
How are you showing corporations this basic truth? Which corporations understand this? Which corporations need to understand this?
“We failed to recognize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, there may be problems for which there are no immediate solutions … At times, we may have to live with an imperfect, untidy world.”
Perhaps we create nonprofits because we want to tidy up the world. We are impatient that the cause isn’t solved, the work seems to be advancing so slowly that we wonder, “Are we really doing anything to solve this issue?” Sometimes we need to learn to live with an imperfect, untidy world.