Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Who I Want To Be When I Grow Up

"If I were starting over in CED (community economic development) today, I would focus my work on labor rights and organizing, environmental sustainability,and global poverty."
Robert Giloth,Nonprofit Leadership

How did I come up with that list? Good question. I think its my own take on key issues of the day, where I could add value, and where I see people I know gravitating.

I was talking with a colleague the other day about big new change initiatives like the $5 billion climate change effort, Design to Win and what its effect might be on attracting nonprofit leaders and organizers. We wondered whether it would draw people away from other, more traditional efforts in the arenas of community development or poverty alleviation, as highlighted, for example, in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity. Do these old new efforts smack of government, bureaucracy, and programs, versus the collaborative, entrepreneurial, and grassroots feel of the new environmental and human rights movement?

Of course, one response is that we are likely to draw net new people into the nonprofit and social change field, despite the withering away of hope from prolonged presidential bashing. Another response is that these new approaches represent a new lens on thinking about old the issues of development and dignity. We're still in the same ball park. Are our we?

The question is whether we will have the nonprofit leaders not only to replace transitioning NGO executives but to to lead these new campaigns over the next decades? Any thoughts?


Colin Austin said...

One challenge is my own casual observation that we have a "lost generation" of nonprofit leaders. Lots of folks that came of age in the 60s and 70s. A good set of brilliant young entrepreneurial types. But not many of us that had our first social change experiences during the Reagan era. Without much help in the middle, it is a long way to stretch the baton.

Bob Giloth said...

How much of that is demographic, generational values and identity,or policy and movement opportunities? What are the implications of a "lost generation" of NGO leaders, if that holds up, especially given recent "baby boomlet." What should the '60s and '70s people do differently -- except get out of the way?