LeadingAge Magazine · March/April 2012 • Volume 02 • Number 02
We’re almost four years beyond the great economic meltdown of 2008, and though technically the great recession ended some time ago, I personally don’t know anyone who feels like we’re out of the woods. I do know that I am tired of thinking and worrying about the economy and I’ll bet you are too.

So when thinking about this issue’s theme of “Financial Stewardship” it’s natural to imagine it’s all about money. I’d suggest, however, that you not let that deter you, because this issue is really about perseverance.

LeadingAge members don’t run the U.S. economy and don’t have it in their power to bring back strong economic growth and put the nation back to work. What is in their power is the ability to take what the world throws at them, adapt to it and keep serving the seniors who need them. Bailing out, throwing up their hands and letting things slide is not in their nature. In this issue you’ll read stories that testify to the perseverance and dedication not-for-profit providers bring to work with them every day.

For a look at how LeadingAge members are re-thinking their fundraising operations while reinforcing their ethical principles, read “Foundations of Fundraising: Mission, Reputation, Stewardship.” Of course, the flipside of increasing revenue is making the most of the resources an organization has, regardless of source. In “Mother of Invention: Mission-Driven Providers Do More with Less in a Down Economy” you’ll read about inspiring examples of providers who fulfill their missions in the face of funding difficulties.

Financial trouble can come from many directions, but getting out of it almost always involves a combination of facing unpleasant facts, a clear-eyed focus on building fiscally sustainable operations, and a foundation in mission. Read “Successful Turnarounds in Challenging Times” for some examples of members in various degrees of difficulty who have turned around their communities.

The casual public perception of not-for-profits—especially regarding their role in the economy and their position as employers—does not match the reality very well, with some negative consequences. An eye-opening new paper by the Johns Hopkins’ Center for Civil Society Studies puts the not-for-profit sector in a clearer light and offers grounds for both concern and optimism. See “Not-for-Profit Employment: Are We Holding Our Own?” for a detailed interview with center director Lester Salamon.

Economic distress spawns many unfortunate consequences, and aging services sees one of them in the need for charitable care. See “Caring For Life: Facing the Challenges of Charitable Care” for thoughts on how providers can responsibly meet the need for charitable care without threatening their organizations’ financial viability.

The LeadingAge Center for Aging Services Technologies (CAST) published an interesting document late last year: a set of 18 case studies of how LeadingAge members are incorporating new technologies into their operations. Inspired by those case studies, “Technology for Mission’s Sake” looks at how three of those organizations use technology not for its own sake, but as a way of allowing them to update their business models to ensure ongoing success.

Broad-based changes in the way the U.S. pays for health care and services for the aging are driving big changes in the way different parts of the health care continuum relate to and cooperate with each other. Read “Building a Better Referral Relationship” to learn how smart providers are positioning themselves to play an important role in the health care system of the future.

I think of the next article, “Reducing Preventable Hospitalizations Must Start With Good Measurements,” as a companion to the one on referral relationships. Inspired by a new paper on quality measurements and avoidable hospitalizations from the Long-Term Quality Alliance, it’s an enlightening interview with the paper’s authors.

Though I never met Howard Washburn in person, I interviewed him at length a few times for articles, and I share the affection that so many people had for him. Washburn, who died a few weeks ago, was a founder of LeadingAge and a pioneer in aging services, known above all for his kindness and his dedication to elders. See “Remembrances of a Friend, Pioneer and ‘Champion of Old People’” for comments from those who knew him best.

Though we regularly celebrate the creativity and innovations of members, we know that there must be many who are doing great things without wider notice. To help us call attention to your own innovations or a colleague’s, why not put in a nomination for the LeadingAge Awards? See the article, “Nominations Are Open for the 2012 LeadingAge Awards” for all the details.

This issue’s Advocacy Department offers a list of valuable steps to building strong relationships with lawmakers, illustrated by some excellent member examples. And in our latest Book Review Department, a pair of LeadingAge Leadership Academy fellows review a book about work and life that involves, among other things, riding [metaphorical] elephants. It’s not really about money either.