By J. Gregory Dees and Beth Battle Anderson
In February 2000, Triangle Community Foundation (TCF) director of Philanthropic Services Tony Pipa presented the foundation’s new mission statement and its internal ramifications to the staff. It had been over two years since TCF’s board had mandated that donors, not nonprofit organizations, were the foundation’s primary customers. Executive Director Shannon St. John, Pipa, and other members of the management team had met for months and wrestled with fundamental questions around the definition of philanthropy, how to achieve meaningful, long-term impact, and the foundation’s role in the communities it served. They were excited about the progress they had made but knew that many questions still remained, and they expected some resistance to their proposals. Much of the staff had come to TCF from nonprofit, community-based organizations and spent much of their time working with the nonprofit sector. They were not sure what this new focus on donors as customers meant for their work, nor were they comfortable with not considering the nonprofit community their customers.
Harvard Business Review, Prod. #: SI09-PDF-ENG, 2001