Building Foundations… Part II


There are lots of ways to make money… and there are lots of ways to make a difference.

Sometimes they’re one in the same… and sometimes they’re not.

As mentioned in Part I, I don’t remember the last time that I wasn’t working on one project or another that didn’t have an element of altruism in it somewhere.

Board and committee positions, services to charitable organizations, advice and counsel to start-ups or small businesses… some which compensated very little… others none at all… but each had several attributes in common:

1) They were all incredibly demanding
2) They were all potentially rewarding
3) They each carried significant risk

We’ll look at the pro bono projects in this article, and the others in the next.


Without doubt, one of the greatest feelings in the world is to do something for someone who has no ability to pay you back. And it is even better when the details are kept quiet… kind of like a secret between you, the recipient, and your Creator.

Now if that third Person is outside your comfort (or belief) zone, well then… just keep the secret between you and those with whom you are working. Very likely, the Creator wasn’t going to tell anyone else anyway… but I digress.

Yes, potentially rewarding work… but not without peril.

I remember a discussion I once had with a contractor who was doing a fair amount of volunteer labor for a parochial school, but who had since fallen behind on some agreed-upon deadlines.

When he felt pressured to provide an updated schedule, he blew up and stated something to the effect that, “when you’re not paying for something, you should be glad for what you get… right?”

Well, yes… and no.


Charitable organizations and those who rely on the margin of others still have plenty of their own plates spinning and lots of their own balls in the air that they are juggling.

And, their organizations exist for a purpose… they are seeking a set of results within a specified time frame just like the rest of us. And with that comes a number of expectations that require certain standards of performance… standards which, while we may be WILLING… we may not be ABLE to meet.

In order to give of our time, our resources… our finances and our talents… we must actually be in possession of enough margin in those areas that we can effectively give them away.

Seems pretty elementary, but we cannot give away that which we do not have… though I have tried to do just that on more than one occasion, and often see others attempt and fail as well.

So we live and learn… and then we change. We need to be sure we can finish practically, what we begin emotionally.

And then there are the dangers in taking on the type of work my consultant friend asked about in the previous article… you know, where you take on a project for peanuts because, well… you know all the reasons.

Finances notwithstanding, these can be super-fun, highly energizing, and make quite an impact… but they also carry at least one MAJOR potential pitfall. A real FOUNDATIONAL principle about BUILDING FOUNDATIONS… next time.



Have you ever volunteered for a project or position in which you later felt unappreciated?

If so, were the goals of the organization or the mission for which you signed up, on target… ahead of schedule… or behind schedule?

How are the relationships within a non-profit, volunteer, or charitable organization different than within a for-profit business? How are they the same?


I look forward to speaking with you.


Photo Credit:

Reinante El Pintor de Fuego