Have you ever had a brilliant idea for a big problem, and then realized it really was no good at all? Nonprofit management is so often about problem solving:
- needing more money,
- recruiting new board members,
- standing out among similar organizations,
- finding more volunteers,
- and lots more.
When I would look at the goal in front of me, sometimes the obvious solutions simply don’t work. Sure, the tried and true are just that; the Gala, the walkathon, the wristband or blankets. But sometimes the tried and true are tired, sometimes circumstances change and you have to as well. In attempting to be creative, ideas are suggested that at first blush seemed inspired, however on closer examination, it’s clear to see what a bad idea it really was.
Some Really Were Awful
But I discovered that some of those bad ideas were really a blessing in disguise. Those bad ideas, some of mine truly sucked, did allow us to open up and find a new approach to solving whatever problem we were considering. And those bad ideas allowed us to see the better ones, and then a good solution.
No Cash Transactions at a Fundraiser?
At a recent a planning meeting for a fundraiser for a shelter dog and student training program, a problem came up. The program is fantastic and does great work but is always (as is everyone) short of funds.
Their annual event, a softball and dog play event had been doing OK; this year’s was the 10th anniversary and a bigger target was set. A new larger, better and more accessible venue had been selected, the only caveat being that no cash money was to trade hands: vendors could not sell and raffle tickets could not be sold.
A chorus of suggestions came up from the group that included simply lying to the city and using money anyway, probably not good local politics; someone else suggested making the whole event free, which kind of defeated the fundraising point. But what came from this spirited discussion were some really good ideas, some good questions that needed to be answered before a decisions could be made.
The crazy ideas were fun, but the real takeaway from this was that new and creative ways of looking at the solution came up. Sure, some had to be discarded right off the bat, but others remained open for discussion, maybe with some tweaking and refinement, that could work.
Bad ideas, even ones that are totally unrealistic, can let you find a new way, and possibly a better way, to get what you need. Allow yourself the freedom to come up with some real doozies, listen to the doozies of others, as a really creative answer can be the next thought.
So, go ahead, fling the spaghetti on the wall and see what you can come up with. Don’t be afraid, the best of the best do the exact same thing.
Need a safe place to try out those wild ideas? Give a call and tell us what is on your mind. 310 828 6979
“The two most important tools an architect has are the eraser in the drawing room and the sledge hammer on the construction site.” Frank Lloyd Wright
Hemingway rewrote the ending to A Farewell to Arms 39 times. When asked about how he achieved his great works, he said, “I write 99 pages of crap for every one page of masterpiece.” He has also been quoted as saying “the first draft of anything is shit.”
“The physicist’s greatest tool is his wastebasket.” Albert Einstein
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