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The City Club Forum

Relentless: Investing in Leaders

Posted Friday, April 27, 2012

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Mario Morino
Chair, Morino Ventures
Relentless: Investing in Leaders who Stop at Nothing in Pursuit of Greater Social Impact

America needs a fundamental rethinking in the nonprofit and public sectors if we are to prevent the American Dream from becoming the American Mirage.

In a cruel irony, the supply of funding for nonprofit and government services is diminishing at precisely the moment when the demand is rising. On the supply side, budgets are under tremendous pressure at the local, state, and federal level—forcing deep cuts in essential services in Northeast Ohio and across the country. On the demand side, seismic shifts in our society—from the aging of the population to dramatic changes in our workforce—are expanding the need for services, not just among the poor but among large sectors of the population.

The magnitude of the combined hits—greatly reduced funding and increased need—will require many organizations to literally reinvent themselves. Even the most accomplished leaders will need to raise the quality of their services while lowering the cost and serving more people.

Nonprofit and public-sector leaders can’t do it on their own. Funders, too, will need to rethink and reinvent for our new societal and economic realities. They will need to do much more to encourage and support courageous leaders and help them build high-performing institutions. And they will need to allocate their resources based on reason and merit rather than feel-good stories, blind loyalty, or faith.

In the midst of dramatic structural shifts, our society will only be as strong and successful as our institutions, and they will only be as successful as the talent that leads them.

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