Accountability Is Key
Earning those donor dollars harder than ever.
To accomplish this, nonprofits need to communicate to donors that they are adapting their programs and services to meet the changing face of need in today's economy. For example, food pantries are now serving the redefined "house poor" - families who are using limited earnings to pay their mortgage and avoid foreclosure, and then have little money left for groceries once the mortgage has been paid.
Nonprofits also have to create forward-thinking, innovative programs that provide novel solutions to new problems. No one is unscathed by this downturn. A laid-off worker might have his car repossessed. If he lives outside the city, how can he look for work without a car? Rates of domestic violence and alcoholism will inevitably increase as stress mounts over lost wages. These problems need to be anticipated and dealt with quickly.
Nonprofits also need to lobby for stronger public-private partnership as a way to solve social problems. Government currently spends millions on programs that simply don't work. For example, do we need to incarcerate as many people as we do? One in 100 people in this country are currently in jail. That's the highest rate of incarceration in the world. There are programs already in place that can solve problems related to drug abuse and delinquency in minors more cheaply and more effectively, while reducing the risk of recidivism.
Similar to a commercial enterprise, charities also need to show they can get by with less. In a social services agency the largest expenses - utilities and lease payments - are non-negotiable. So employees typically bear the brunt of cost cutting when donations fall. In the last year, my agency reduced headcount by 25 through layoffs and attrition. However, in social services, there's an inverse relationship between economic activity and our workload.
As the economy falters and people lose jobs, their need and our workload increases.
Because we must do more with less, we have started to prioritize the needs of our clients. This month I challenged all of our departments to find out which populations have been hit hardest recently, and what we can do about it. This inevitably means some projects will have to be shelved for a time.
In my columns, I attempt to draw both parallels and departures between nonprofit and for-profit business models so you'll understand our challenges and needs from a business perspective. As donors, I encourage you to open a discussion with your charity of choice, to see if they are meeting today's needs and challenges in the most efficient and effective way.
And on a very basic level, ask yourself this: Where is the need in my community greatest? This is just my opinion, but if given the choice between funding a new opera house or helping families keep their homes, feed their children and find employment, I truly hope your significant donations support the latter until the economy rights itself. Keeping the lowest rung of the economic ladder from snapping off will help us get out of this mess and back to prosperity.
The information on this website solely reflects the analysis of or opinion about the performance of securities and financial markets by the writers whose articles appear on the site. The views expressed by the writers are not necessarily the views of Minyanville Media, Inc. or members of its management. Nothing contained on the website is intended to constitute a recommendation or advice addressed to an individual investor or category of investors to purchase, sell or hold any security, or to take any action with respect to the prospective movement of the securities markets or to solicit the purchase or sale of any security. Any investment decisions must be made by the reader either individually or in consultation with his or her investment professional. Minyanville writers and staff may trade or hold positions in securities that are discussed in articles appearing on the website. Writers of articles are required to disclose whether they have a position in any stock or fund discussed in an article, but are not permitted to disclose the size or direction of the position. Nothing on this website is intended to solicit business of any kind for a writer's business or fund. Minyanville management and staff as well as contributing writers will not respond to emails or other communications requesting investment advice.
Copyright 2011 Minyanville Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Daily Recap Newsletter