I didn't. Then I watched this TED Talk by Dan Pallotta. And I saw a world where a minor shift in mindset – an absurdly logical shift – could make a major difference in quality of life for millions. Any millions. Pick your cause.
Watch it and tell me you don't see it.
But it also made me mad. Really mad. How is this video four years old and I've never even heard these ideas? Even worse, how did I not see it for myself? This is my world in many ways, and I perpetuated the double-standard we have for nonprofits.
Not sure what I'm talking about yet? Try this on: "From 1970 to 2009, the number of nonprofits that really grew, that crossed the $50 million annual revenue barrier, is 144. In that same time, the number of for-profits that crossed it is 46,136."
We have to change this.
I was excited when we launched Hotwire Social Impact a couple months ago because the work I've done with nonprofits is so gratifying. It feels like it's making a real, well, impact. But the difference between working with nonprofits and any for-profit company is glaring, mostly in that elephant-in-the-room sort of way.
It's assumed nonprofits don't have much budget. It's assumed nonprofits don't have internal marketing resources. It's assumed nonprofits are not willing to take risks. Because it's almost always true! But why is it this way, and why is that ok?
Dan talks about a few reasons we ended up and stayed here, but the argument for why we need to move on is much stronger. And we can start by exterminating this question from every conversation: "What percentage of my donation goes to the cause versus overhead?"
When do we ever criticize a B2B tech company for how much money they spend on marketing or how much they pay their 29-year-old CEO? We don't – because we know that's what they need to drive revenue. Why should it be any different for a nonprofit?
"We've all been taught that the bake sale with 5% overhead is morally superior to the professional fundraising enterprise with 40% overhead, but we're missing the most important piece of information, which is: What is the actual size of these pies?"
Let's shift the conversation.
[P.S. – As a very fortunate resident of Sonoma County, which has seen unimaginable destruction by fires this month – lay off the Red Cross! Or at least think about it in a new way.]
Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses).