Thursday, January 6, 2011

When Non-Profits Are Their Own Worst Enemy

Today’s New York Times has a prominent article in the business section ( featuring nonprofit complaints that the Pepsi Refresh on-line fundraising contest is being manipulated and that worthy nonprofits were being cheated out of a “win” by fraudulent voting.

Obviously Pepsi has an obligation to ensure the integrity of such an effort. But what’s left unsaid is that this is an example of how nonprofits can be their own worst enemies by becoming reliant on both wishful thinking and sources of funding that are entirely unsustainable in the long run.

Ultimately there is no substitute for nonprofits learning how to create their own wealth, the kind of community wealth that makes the charitable pie grow, rather than always fighting for their share of a finite pie, if they want to see good ideas and programs get to scale and be sustained.

1 comment:

  1. Billy:
    I totally agree with you that many nonprofits need to learn how to create their own wealth - not just compete for a share of a finite "charity" pie. From my 20+ years experience with nonprofits, the folks who are stuck in the old school mindset of "charity" (aka "the tin cup mentality") can't see themselves as truly having organizational assets. Low to no risk action is the name of their game. As a result they may talk collaboration and sustainability but have no clue how to think, for example, win-win partnerships with businesses (as Share Our Strength does) that are not just a one way flow of donations. Can't count how many times I have heard, we don't want their corporate volunteers - that's too much work - we just want a check. I do a lot of nonprofit training and have a "workshop in a box" toolkit on how to strategically partner with businesses as a way to support shifting that paradigm - and it always amazes me how resistant folks are to try anything new. In these economic times though, those that don't learn to create their own wealth using a variety of strategies won't be here to tell the tale and certainly won't go to scale.

    Sue Hyatt
    Business Nonprofit CONNECTIONS, Inc.