Yolanda J. Gorman, PhD has been active in the philanthropic space for over 30 years, currently serving on the Board of Regents for the University of California. She is also President of Philips Graduate University and is active in various other nonprofits and foundations as a board member and an advocate. Yolanda began her nonprofit career as a grant writer.
A Culture of Giving
How to create a culture of giving? Of enthusiasm? Of innovation and creativity? Yolanda Gorman believes that these issues will be at the forefront of philanthropy as we move through the early parts of the 21st century. Nonprofit institutions have successfully articulated and funded many of their projects. However, Yolanda feels that there remains a mismatch between funders and donors—an element of chasing dollars. Specifically, Yolanda feels, “The model isn’t changing dramatically.” Many nonprofits have not updated their business models to include more inventive means to search for resources.
“The culture hasn’t changed,” she says. “Funding models are changing rapidly and nonprofits aren’t moving quickly enough. However, nonprofit organizations are being forced to change; there is a disruption occurring.”
What is this disruption? New investors. Yes, donors are investors. And they want something different. Millennials and others “want a say.” This is not atypical. Donors often “want a say.” However, now they “want to be involved, want to have a personal relationship, want to have a personal impact.” The question Yolanda raises is, “How do we create this connection between donors and organizations so that everyone understands” the needs, the goals, and the opportunities?
As with many transitions, business models are entrenched and difficult to change. In answer to the question, “How do we change the business model?” Yolanda isn’t sure. However, she does believe that there is plenty of noise in the environment. Examples she discussed include social media, crowdfunding, and “understanding different ways to attract resources and donors."
“How do we take advantage of innovation?” Is it that nonprofits don’t see the model changing or they don’t know how to address it?
Thinking about philanthropy from a strategic perspective is part of Yolanda’s DNA. Although her beginnings in philanthropy were a fluke—a grant writing job while a college student—she was able to take what she learned in business school and help nonprofits better articulate their visions, share their missions, be effective, and communicate their successes.
Years later, she’s still in the game. She’s able “to contribute to some of the most important work on the planet.” Additionally, she has “high respect and regard for people who work on the ground helping other people.”
Now there are vast opportunities for investors to share their resources: locally, nationally and globally. Access to and accumulation of wealth is changing. Yolanda anticipates “more entrepreneurism, more innovation, more creativity from nonprofits.” She feels nonprofit organizations will have to change, though it will not be easy or quickly.
Yolanda feels the big question really remains the same: “How do we bring resources to bear on social issues?” She believes the processes used to fund and connect these resources will adapt to our new world.
“As long as we live on this planet, there are going to be opportunities to share our skills and resources to affect humanity.”