Thought Leadership

Thought Leadership

In the age of social media, when anyone with many Friends or a large Twitter following can be considered a thought leader, we need to step back and consider exactly what thought leadership is in the non-profit world, and why it so important for us to develop it to our best advantage. Thought leadership is a way for a brand to position itself as a leader in its field or sector by demonstrating its values, its expertise, and sharing its thinking about the future.

Michael Brenner, recognized as a top marketing influencer by Forbes and by Huffington Post as a top business keynote speaker, believes “thought leadership means you provide the best and deepest answers to your customers’ biggest questions in the formats your audience likes to consume.” To Brenner “authentic thought leadership remains a driving force in successful companies across almost every industry.”

In Business News Daily, Skye Schooley, writing to define thought leadership and why it matters, adds “As a notable expert in a specific company, industry, or society, a thought leader is someone who offers guidance and insight to those around them. In other words, a thought leader has a positive reputation of helping others with their knowledge and insight.”

As Caroline Avakian points out in the Jewish Philanthropy blog: “Thought leadership is not just a PR function. It requires that we have an idea–something to make the world a better place, something that will solve a problem or improve a process.”  Organizations can be treasure troves of excellent ideas waiting to be unleashed and shared with the world. These organizations can succeed with limited resources and small or non-existent communications and marketing teams that are allocated to drumming up support in an overcrowded charity marketplace. 

An organization’s energy is sometimes focused on elevating a single member of its team to thought leadership status, usually someone high in the hierarchy like the executive director. At The Fedcap Group, conversely, we are totally committed to populating our organization with thought leaders who serve as a collective asset. When we foster a culture of deep learning and train staff in our core philosophy and values, we will develop more ways for thought leadership to become embedded in the DNA of the agency.  We recognize that thought leadership can come from any source – executives, customers, product managers, designers, customer service reps, and sales people. We all have knowledge, experience and a point of view. As it permeates the organization, it organically spreads to the community.

Avakian notes, “Thought leadership is arguably the most effective and least expensive way an organization can build awareness, support for ideas, and influence the communities it needs to reach, including decision makers, policy makers and donors.”

The Case for Financial Transparency in Non-Profits

The Case for Financial Transparency in Non-Profits

“The greatest threat to the not-for-profit sector is the betrayal of public trust, the disappointment of public confidence.”

–Professor Joel Fleishman, Duke University

This week, Fedcap released its first half-year financials for 2017. This process takes place via webinar, and this year attracted more than 150 participants from business, academia, government, and non-profit sectors. Every six months, we present our financials along with an overview of our programmatic and service growth and sustainability. I am happy to report that for the first half of this year, we show very strong growth and stability in our organization. Please feel free to review our release at

Many people might see the gathering and analysis of data as a bi-annual chore. Frankly, I see it as a privilege. It is an opportunity to reflect on our mission and our values and to see how we are progressing in relation to our strategy and our planning. It also gives us an opportunity to see and measure the success of our growth.

As the head of a large non-profit, I have a huge responsibility to our funders, our partners, and our individual and corporate donors. The resources they entrust to us are precious and are given to us in good faith that we will be meticulous in our use of them. Too many non-profits have foundered due to inefficient tracking and reporting of their funds. Bob Carlson, in an article in a 2011 Chronicle of Philanthropy article cites lack of fiscal transparency as the number one complaint that is made to states’ attorneys general. In addition, in the absence of information, there is room for misunderstandings and misperceptions which can lead to reputational risk. Non-profits have failed not only because of lack of financial stewardship but even by failing to meet their stakeholders’ expectations for transparency. I believe it is essential to incorporate the best business practices into our non-profit reporting.

While emphasis on our mission is key to engaging the hearts and minds of our partners, demonstrating our financial reporting creates a common and exact language out stakeholders understand. The numbers tell the story of our work, our mission, our successes, and our areas for improvement.

On May 16, we received several excellent questions from our stakeholders who attended our financial release. I so appreciate their engagement; their questions and interest continue to propel us to fulfill our mission of creating opportunities for the power of possible through relevant, sustainable impact.

I welcome your thoughts about financial transparency in non-profits. What are your experiences?