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Any Nonprofit that Runs Like a Business Will Go Broke



Are you tired of being asked, “Why can’t you run your nonprofit like a business?”

I’ve written about how nonprofits can use advice written for businesses (with just a little translation).  When it comes to nonprofit finance, however, some business wisdom is just wrong.

Clara Miller, the former director of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, explains why.  In her wonderful article, “The Looking-Glass World of Nonprofit Money,” she lists seven assumptions that businesspeople make that–in the nonprofit world–are just not true.

  1. “The consumer buys the product.” False. Donors and funders buy the “product” (which may be a service, a program, or a campaign), and clients benefit from it.
  2. “Price covers cost and eventually produces profits, or the business folds.”  False.  Nonprofits are devoted to their missions and will keep on pursuing the mission as long as they  can.  They have a sideline in fundraising to support…

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Does Your Board Tell Compelling Stories About Your Mission?

Barkada Circle

The other day, BoardSource senior governance consultant, Susan Decker, led a webinar entitled “Mission Movers: Crafting and Communicating Your Message.” In it, she pointed out specific roles that board members of nonprofit organizations are expected to carry on for communicating their mission.

According to Decker, the first step in understanding these roles is to ask these key questions:

  • Does our organization have a clear strategic vision that supports our mission?
  • Do I understand my role in communications?
  • Do we have the necessary expertise to support and deliver solid messaging?
  • Are there opportunities in my relationships that could benefit the goals of the organization?

Decker then explains the importance of board members sharing compelling stories about the mission:

  • Briefly communicate shared values, needs, and interests
  • Put a face and a voice to your work
  • Include hard data where appropriate
  • People remember how we make them feel more than anything else


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What Development Departments (and Boards) Can Learn from “How I Met Your Mother”


I was a late comer when it comes to “How I Met Your Mother”, but now I watch it in syndication.  If you don’t watch the show, it is about a group of five friends in New York City.  The protagonist, Ted Moseby, is telling his children about how he met their mother, but the story goes on and on, much to the children’s chagrin.

Early in the series, Ted’s roommates get engaged, and it brings out Ted’s feelings of wanting the same.  On a first date with another character, Robin, Ted proclaims feelings of love for her which, of course, is a huge mistake.  It sends her running away from him, and once again, he searches for the love of his life.  I have been guilty of similar sins in my youth, so I can relate to his character.

A few years ago, I participated in a major gifts…

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Love Donna Flora: Help Squinternet Larnia

Houses in the Sky

Love Donna Flora Collage

For years, Squinternet Larnia has been an active and well-loved member of the Second Life community. There were items from her store, Donna Flora, at almost every charity fundraiser. When she was asked, she said yes.

December 2011, Squinternet learned she had breast cancer and that it had already metastisized to her bones. Her prognosis was bleak and she was not expected to see the summer. Well, this is the second summer since her diagnosis. She pursued alternative therapies that have helped and given her a hopeful and joyful extra year. However, the cancer has regrouped and her strength is flagging. At the moment she needs home nursing care and is hoping to travel to a cancer treatment center in northern Italy for another last-chance attempt to prove the doctors wrong. (…)

Since she has not been strong enough to release recently, her income from SL has dropped to just…

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More Donors Learning About Text Donation Campaigns via Social Media, Survey Finds – Re-Posted

Mission Is Everything!


Donors who give via text message increasingly are hearing about text donation campaigns through social media and are open to receiving a broad range of information via text, a report from the mGive Foundation finds.

Based on a survey of donors who have made a text donation via mGive, the 2013 mGive Text Donation Study (17 pages, PDF) found that 67 percent of respondents said they learned about a text donation campaign from a television or radio promotion; 28 percent via social media (up from 22 percent in 2012); 19 percent through a public event (up from 16 percent); and 11.5 percent through e-mail (down from more than 60 percent in 2011 and 14 percent in 2012). The report also found that donor appetite for additional information via text is increasing, with 33 percent of respondents saying they were open to receiving information about volunteer opportunities (a nine-point increase…

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