Founderitis: How an AMC Can Help

I went to a non-profit seminar sponsored by a local law firm recently and discovered there is a name for a malady that I have seen first-hand, but did not realize that others have diagnosed it with so much more precision than I. It is known as “founderitis”. Founderitis is a condition that exists when a founder of a non-profit organization, or perhaps even when someone who has been the dominant leader in the organization for many years, has become more of a liability than an asset.

Founders and those who have been dominant leaders in organizations for many years have almost always been extremely important to organizational success. In many cases, without that person’s passion for the mission the organization would have withered and died. Others may have played significant roles as well, but often they were supporting roles to that one person and they typically deferred to that dominant person in all things that matter the most. As a result, the organization eventually bears the unmistakable image of that person and may almost become synonymous with that person’s identity. That is not necessarily a problem – at least, not until the years pass and the time comes when the organization has to survive based on a collective commitment to a core mission rather than the singular passion of a strong and dominant leader.

So, how can an Association Management Company help? A good AMC is led by professionals who know how to harness the enthusiasm of passionate people and to organize those people into effective teams that can sustain a concentrated effort towards clear goals and objectives year after year. Passion may start the fire, but it takes strategic governance and effective management to keep it burning over time. The right AMC can help an organization that may be suffering from “founderitis”, that is teetering on the brink, and may be close to that tipping point when it starts a downward spiral that can be almost impossible to reverse. There is no better way to honor that unique person who has been so instrumental in building and nurturing a non-profit organization through its nascency than by taking the next step and developing the governance and management systems that will take the organization to even greater accomplishments. That is what a good AMC can do.