Sunday, June 23, 2013

Profit's not a bad word for non-profits

Planning for, and gaining profit, to take care of non-profit's overhead is not a bad thing.  Here's Kjerstin Erickson.
Overhead, it turns out, could have made all the difference. With the appropriate investments in efficiency-building infrastructure, administration, and development, FORGE would undoubtedly be alive today. Rather than starving a painful death, we’d be growing and thriving – a force for good in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people who have lost everything.

If you’d asked me ten years ago to name the dirtiest word in the nonprofit language, I would have undoubtedly told you: OVERHEAD. If you asked me today, I’d give you the same answer. In the intervening decade, however, the tables have turned. Overhead is not dirty because it represents inefficiency, waste, and greed; it is dirty because of the powerful myth it has promulgated. That myth – the one that equates “low” overhead with high performance and “high” overhead with greed and irresponsibility – leads to a very dangerous and unsustainable outcome. I bought into it, or at least didn’t push back on it hard enough. It pains me every day to think of what I lost, and how I could have done it differently.

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