Our November Leadership Louisville session focused on the incredible scope and depth of more than 2,000 non profits in the Louisville community. It was a well designed day. It started with some sobering and surprising statistics delivered in a clever group exercise facilitated by the long-tenured,outgoing CEO of Metro United Way, Joe Tolan. This exercise was followed by tours of nonprofits serving the needs of children, parents, veterans, seniors, the disabled, the homeless, refugees, and those struggling with substance abuse, among others. It was clear that a tremendous burden of need is being served by these organizations and it was incredibly helpful to see the services and clients firsthand, and meet the staff and leaders who provide support that so many in our community rely upon.
My group visited the Home of the Innocents. This visit was particularly poignant for me as it lies just three blocks from my home. I was amazed at services they provide to children with medical or developmental needs and to those who have been removed from their families due to abuse, abandonment or neglect.
The morning theme of understanding the reality of the needs of those served by the nonprofit community was capped off with a money management exercise where each of us was challenged to find a lunch for $3.00. It was certainly difficult to find a healthy meal or a meal with any variety unless you pooled your group’s resources. I believe everyone left with an appreciation of how even one simple yet unexpected challenge in a day creates a little stress and confusion. We could then imagine how much more magnified that strain can be given the other situations the clients of our nonprofit community are faced with daily.
We also discussed a TED Talk video featuring Dan Pallotta which challenged the presumption that non-profits should be held to different standards than for-profits. Mr. Pallotta makes a solid case for non-profits to unapologetically invest in the best talent and the best marketing, taking on innovation and the inherent risks – and other behaviors that for-profits leverage successfully. The challenge is primarily the public acceptance of this shift.
I ended the day reflecting on the work of my own team at Humana. We are working with seven communities, trying to create a collaborative environment and in many cases business models or initiatives that enable for-profits and non-profits to work together to bring health solutions to a community. I do believe change is in the air (and not only because it was Election Day) in the non-profit sector and I believe the for-profit community has more of a role to play than just providing funds and volunteers in the future. Stay tuned!