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  • benjaminnewman01

Mod. 9 - Social Arrangements (Sensation, Intervention, Imagination)

Updated: Jun 30, 2023

Making the Case for Intervening in a Social Arrangement in Your Org

1. What is the social arrangement you have identified?

2. What are its effects (how does it cause people to act)?

3. How do those effects skew ideas (thoughts) about your purpose, value, metrics of success?

4. How might you alter this social arrangement?

5. How might this alteration change effects (actions) and eventually ideas (thoughts)?


For this assignment, I chose to answer the five questions by doing a compare and contrast. While not “creative” in the sense that Iain Kerr and Jason Frasca push us towards in EIF, it helped me to organize my thoughts about how to incorporate I-A-E into the matter of concern I had worked with in our last assignment. Rather than look at the Agent and Environment that makes up a nonprofit organization, I chose a challenge most nonprofits share in common; the role of donors.

I then applied elements of the EIF model of probing by identifying three assignments that result from the idea and then I identified two effects that result from each assignment. Once I was able to visually represent that process, I integrated the process into a “current” model vs. a “potential” model. The current model allowed me to answer and organize the first three questions and the potential model answered questions four and five. Once the models were complete, I went back and added narrative language to the five questions asked which are shown below followed by the model diagrams I developed to frame the narrative to the questions. I hope you enjoy!


1. The role of donors in arts orgs.

2. A. Staff are forced to focus on and realize donors' expectations and wishes. Their energy is spent on conserving and retaining existing donor relationships, preventing them from focusing on finding new donors, strategizing on other forms of fundraising, or experimenting with new forms of income generation.

2. B. Donors are never taught how to engage missionally and so they focus more on the benefit of exclusive access, personal satisfaction and enjoyment.

2. C. At worst, donors wield their power towards personal gain, manipulating decision making within the organization through threats or promises of greater support.

3. A. Staff energy is oriented in a fear of losing donor support, which diminishes motivation, decreases performance and detracts from the organization’s mission.

3. B. Donors act in the way the administration teaches them. They don’t know what the culture is until the administration shows them, so they believe their actions and behavior are correct.

3. C. Because there is no accountability, donors silently accumulate undue influence and slowly change the metrics of the organization’s success and its value towards their own interpretation and prioritization.

4. A. Create the culture and expectation of donors’ roles at the beginning of the relationship.

4. B. Focus on education and integration in the ways donors can be involved beyond their donations and become a true part of the community.

4. C. Create opportunities for honor, responsibility and benevolence to develop model donors who truly support the organization’s mission.

5. A. Staff are actively engaged in supporting the mission and building a shared corporate culture alongside donors where everyone’s roles are honored and valued.

5. B. Donor support becomes more active and participatory than passive and expectant of praise and reward.

5. C. New models for future generations of philanthropic involvement emerge, the organization’s mission is supported and grows, and its impact in the community grows with it.

The two diagrams below demonstrate the current role of donors vs. the potential role of donors in arts organizations by challenging the middle arrangement in the current model that values exclusivity and special treatment. I propose that by intentionally building donor’s expectations from the beginning of the relationship to focus on active participation through education and integration, rather than passive participation through access and special treatment, donors will better understand their role within the organization and further its mission far greater than if they continue to operate as they currently do.


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