Wednesday, June 15, 2005

FNC | Feature-Philanthropy's New Clothes

FNC | Feature: "Feature
Philanthropy�s New Clothes
Why honest feedback is sometimes as hard to find as the emperor's outfit.
by Kathleen P. Enright
When you were younger, did you have an aunt who sent a birthday present each year, but it was always the wrong thing, like Barbies when you were 14, or a world atlas when you were four, or a brightly colored sweater that was inappropriate at any age? Although the gift was not something you wanted, you were never comfortable being honest, because her intentions were good. After prodding from your mom, you would sit down to write an insincere thank-you note, telling her how much you loved the gift. To complicate matters, this aunt happened to be rich, so you hoped that perhaps one day she might get it right.
Yet, your aunt didn't ask you what you wanted or try to find that out from others. And you were too young, too polite or too cowed to give honest feedback, so the cycle of well-intentioned, but inappropriate, gifts continued.
A similar dynamic is often present in the relationship between grantmakers and the organizations they support. "

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