Why Having Diverse Sources of Funding Equals Success

This is a fascinating story from the Globe and Mail about public theater funding in Canada right now. To summarize, the total amount to be given to theater organizations has been the same for several years, so the question is how to distribute it.

One theory is give it to the big guys, who’ve proven they can use it.

Another theory is give it to the new guys, who need it to get going and who can bring new vitality into the business.

If you’re part of an organization that depends on this kind of money, it’s imperative to develop a plan that liberates you from this kind of nonsense. It might take time, but whether it’s earned income or private donations, it would be irresponsible leadership not to develop a plan that doesn’t rely on this kind of money for success.

Why? Because you have absolutely no control over it, and because if it doesn’t go your way, it can kill your organization. I realize this might annoy or anger some people, and I don’t mean to do that, but on the off-chance that this is an issue that someone reading this is experiencing right now, I offer this thought: There is a solution. It might take a while to get to it and it might take some new ways of looking at how you operate, but there’s a solution to getting your organization where it wants to go without this kind of dependency. Take the money, by all means, take it. Just don’t depend on it.

If you want more thoughts on this, check out Seth Godin’s The Bootstrapper’s Bible or read the blog by 37 Signals called Signal vs. Noise. Pay special attention to the “Bootstrapped, Profitable and Proud” entries.

There’s no good answer to who to starve and who to feed in this kind of situation, and we can certainly argue and discuss government funding and what it should be. But for each of us, we have to try to control what we can control. That means if you are dependent on this kind of funding, it’s really up to you to make sure all it can do is help and never hurt.

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