Jimmy LaRose was recently featured in an article written by Louis Fawcett titled Jimmy LaRose – Villain or Hero? I think Louis’ insights about Jimmy are so very true for many of us. You see, I was concerned about some of the ideas LaRose was espousing and after joining NANOE I even asked myself the question, “what have I gotten myself into?”
I first met Jimmy LaRose at NANOE’s Board of Governors’ Convention & Expo in Charleston, SC this past March. Not only did I experience him as a keynote speaker but more importantly I heard his peers talk about his passion, ethics and analysis of what we all know is a terribly broken charitable sector. It didn’t take me long to realize that this guy was a walking, talking genius – and if I had any smarts, I would listen carefully to what he had to say. (By the way, over the years I’ve attended countless boring, sleep-inducing talks about nonprofit management that never offered anything new) Simply put, when I heard Jimmy explain the innumerable ways charity is fractured and his startling new proposals to change the way we do business I knew I had better keep listening.
As a long-time philanthropist I found Jimmy LaRose’s message that, “donors are a nonprofit’s primary customer” to be both startling and revelatory. He shared that charities mistakenly think that the student, homeless, rainforest, or families are their customers. He then asked the audience, “Why are clients or causes not your customers? There was a moment of silence and Jimmy bluntly said, “Because they ain’t got no money!” The audience clapped and I roared with laughter knowing that Jimmy LaRose was full of common sense.
As the conference continued it didn’t take me long to realize that both Jimmy LaRose and NANOE are imbued with Christian ethics. I also believe that a bad situation – the state of nonprofits – can down spiral just so long before He, the Lord, says. “enough all-ready.” I find Louis’ comparison of Jimmy LaRose to Martin Luther to be both compelling and accurate. Jimmy’s ideas are certainly as controversial as Luther’s and I do truly believe that LaRose will someday be held in great esteem like Luther before him. I’m convinced after 70 years of life, that one doesn’t get to the place Jimmy LaRose is at without being especially ordained by God. I’m also convinced that Jimmy doesn’t see himself that that way and most probably never will, but God knows.
In closing, I’ll let you know that Jimmy’s passion for “people who give” has inspired me to change the way I invest in nonprofits. His belief that donors are uniquely positioned to give charities what they truly need – leadership rather than money – has changed the way I make philanthropic gifts. He champions DONORS FIRST by facilitating acts of benevolence that bring healing to humanity and advance our common good.
After reading his best-selling book RE-IMAGINING PHILANTHROPY I bought a copy for everyone of our board members. His chapter on board structures are in your face. The next few paragraphs are take word-for-word from page 55 of RE-IMAGINING PHILANTHROPY.
“God first made idiots (that was for practice) then He made boards.” ~Mark Twain
VOLUNTEER BOARDS DON’T WORK AND NEVER WILL
After spending twenty-five years in nonprofit management (having worked with over 500 boards) I’ve determined, broadly speaking, there are three types of boards…
…mediocre ones, useless ones, and really bad ones.
It’s not the fault of the individual volunteer (most of the time), it’s simply a flawed business model that never had a chance to succeed.
Here’s what your contemporaries have to say:
“Effective governance by a board of trustees is a relatively rare and unnatural act. Trustees are often little more than high-powered, well-intentioned people engaged in low-level activities.” ~Thomas Holland
“There is one thing all boards have in common…they do not function.” ~Peter Drucker
“Ninety-five percent (of boards) are not doing what they are legally, morally, and ethically supposed to do.” ~Harold Geneen
Needless to say, our entire organization is better for it.
In closing, I’ll refer back to Louis Fawcett’s article about Jimmy, “We need a rebel. We need a leader. We need someone who is not afraid of the dark places. We need someone who gets his hands dirty. This person is Jimmy LaRose.”
Amen Louis, Jimmy is our man and NANOE is his carriage.
Arthur Whitehead, the author of Jimmy LaRose and NANOE – Charity’s Nonprofit Genius is an entrepreneur, philanthropist and founder of Rwandan Hope Project (RHP). RHP serves the ’94 Tutsi genocide surviving widows and orphans and street children in East Africa by improving their health and standard of living through food and income generation in the form of a micro-enterprise. “The Project” was initiated by the Good News of Peace and Development (GNPD) for Rwanda and is funded by RHP.