December 12, 2007

What the Red Cross Scandal Says About All Charities

Why does the American Red Cross continue to flounder? The answer isn’t what you might expect in the wake of the recent scandal involving of its chief executive, writes Hildy Gottlieb in her blog Creating the Future.

The Red Cross, Ms. Gottlieb says, lacks vision and values.

Like so many other charities, it is more preoccupied with “organizational survival” — namely avoiding the next round of budget cuts, getting board members engaged, and other day-to-day concerns — than it is with its mission. As a result, it continues to make bad decisions.

Ms. Gottlieb warns that charities too often lose sight of why they are doing their work. “Without first focusing on achieving huge and over-the-top results for the people we serve, and only then asking what capacity we will need to accomplish that, we are building capacity for the sake of building capacity,” she writes.

What do you think? Do charities lack vision and values? Do they build capacity “for the sake of building capacity”? Click on the comments link to share your views.

Caroline Preston