The Big Board Meeting: Mission Drift at My Small Museum

Nobody wants a meeting like this.

The stage is officially set for The Big Board Meeting. Anyone who’s ever been seriously involved with a non-profit knows exactly what I’m talking about.

After two failed events this year and massively high tensions throughout the organization, the blame game has already begun behind the scenes. Next month’s board meeting will be where it will all come to a head.

Here’s the story:

The executive director is burnt out. She’s more interested in using the museum to pursue her pet projects than actually doing things within the organization’s mission. Number 1: She has her reasons for this attitude, and most of them are easy to sympathize with. Number 2: In her heart, she thinks what she’s doing is helping the museum. She’s the kind of person who thinks she’s always right and doesn’t always see the negative effects that her action have on others.

The rest of us are sick and tired of going on tangents. We came to support the museum’s mission, not other random sh*t. We’re understaffed and so we’re all overworked, and for what? The museums made money on only one event this entire year. Granted, it was a LOT of money, notably for the only event within our mission statement. The rest of our events were a huge waste of everyone’s time.

Slowly but surely, mutiny is building, and nobody is happy about it. This is a small museum, and we’re all like family. This is going to be as ugly as family feuds always are.

I hate this. I frankly didn’t sign up for it. I’m confrontation-averse and usually go along with anything, even things I radically disagree with,  to avoid it. However, things need to change if this organization is to survive. As a friend of the executive director, I feel this needs to be done. I’d like it to be as nice as possible–we’re already mentioned things to the executive director informally, so I think she knows it’s coming–but building a behind-the-scenes consensus has involved some talking behind her back, and I feel guilty about that. I always support her and don’t want to hurt her, but I also know that the current pace of the organization is unsustainable.

What to do? I have a life, a full-time job, and my very own family to fight with at home. That’s the thing with small museums. They suck you in, and sometimes, when you’re ready to leave, they won’t let you.


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