Effective Foundation Management
In beginning the introduction to this book with the statement “Foundations fail”, Joel Orosz isn’t telling us anything we don’t know. In fact, the entire book is filled with things we already know – challenges and dilemmas which will resonate strongly with many of our Members - but Orosz concisely explains these challenges and provides practical approaches towards addressing them. While the experiences, examples and lessons included are American, every one of Orosz’s challenges and dilemmas is applicable to the Australian sector. Some of the issues covered include: lack of pre- and post-employment training, lack of reliable feedback or an accepted body of good practices, and lack of a salutary external discipline. Orosz also tackles the delicate matter of ideological division in foundations, both between boards and staff, and within the staff.
The dilemmas include broad versus deep, high versus low profile and strategic planning versus flexibility. In each of these dilemmas Orosz cannot provide a solution, as these are dilemmas which “daily force (foundation) leaders to confront decisions between right and just alternatives, making it impossible to select any good choice without rejecting one or more equally good choices”. Instead, he provides perspective, suggesting that foundations should embrace the contradictions inherent in the dilemmas and find ways to manage, rather than solve, them.
The anecdotes Orosz brings up as examples, as well as his direct and pithy style, make this an enjoyable read as well as a useful one. The book is designed for both cover-to-cover readers and those who prefer to dip into the most relevant chapters for them.
(Review by Vanessa Meachen)