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VolunteerToday.com ~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism


They are volunteers, too!
Look here for infomation and the latest techniques to develop your board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.

~ September 2003 ~ Topic

What is Founder’s Syndrome?Cowboy Image

A syndrome, according to Webster’s, is “a number of symptoms occurring together and characterizing a specific disease or condition."

In the nonprofit field, “founder’s syndrome” is often used to refer to some persons who have founded a nonprofit. These persons have usually given huge amounts of time, effort, passion and money to start an organization, but as the organization grows, they may show some of the following symptoms:

Difficulty in delegating to others.
Difficulty letting go of micromangement when the first executive director is hired. Even when the founder was part of that decision because he/she is overworked, she/he may have poor relations with the new executive director. Frequently this results in the first executive director leaving the organization. The founder then feels overworked again, and may be more receptive to the second executive director.
Stubborn adherence to the personal original vision and dream that led the founder to start the organization even when realities in the internal and external environment indicate some changes and initiatives will make the organization more effective in the community it serves.
Desire to be consulted on everything that happens.

Frequent use of the phrase, “We tried that and it didn’t work."

Frequent use of the phrase, “What do I need a board for anyway?”

Fortunately, not all founders suffer from this syndrome. They know that if the organization is to grow and develop, they can no longer control everything that happens. They know that, if the organization is to be successful, it needs the involvement of an informed board, a capable staff, and a community that shares its mission.

The “uninfected” founder continues to be involved with the organization but exercises restraint, knowing, as does a good parent, thatScreen Beans Teamwork Image the child (in this case the organization) needs to have some growing pains (called in nonprofits “organizational development”). Ideally, the founder will be there to help as needed and will ultimately be the proud parent-founder who sees the child (organization) grow and develop beyond the parent-founder’s greatest expectations.

See our online bookstore for Jeanne Bradner's book on boards: "The Board Member’s Guide: A Beneficial Bestiary", "Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today" and "Passionate Volunteerism."
Board Member's Guide Image"Board Member's Guide Image Passionate Volunteerism Image
Leading Volunteers Book Image Passionate Volunteerism Book Image Board Member's Guide Book Image

Other good sources for information on boards and committees:

Jeanne H. Bradner
Jeanne H. Bradner is an author, consultant, trainer and speaker on volunteerism, board development and leadership. She is the author of three publications, Passionate Volunteerism, The Board Member's Guide, A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building Communities Today. She served as director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Voluntary Action, Midwest Regional Director of ACTION, and Executive Director of the Illinois Commission on Community Service. She is the volunteer program specialist for Illinois' Harper College Volunteer Management curriculum.

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