The Weirdness of Nonprofit Money (May 05)

Print Share on LinkedIn More

When I was a time-constrained ED trying to make sense of managing nonprofits, I loved finding those rare articles that acknowledged problems I was having trouble even naming — never mind addressing. Every now and then the Nonprofit Quarterly publishes an article like this — an instant standard.

Such is the case with Clara Miller's latest: "The Looking-Glass World of Nonprofit Money: Managing in For-Profits' Shadow Universe."

This article takes on the reasons for cognitive dissonance we sometimes experience in finding, for instance, that organizational growth has restricted our ability to be effective. Quite simply, Clara says, money often works very differently in nonprofits than it does in business. There are different rules to be observed and variables to be considered.

Not only is this a must-read for executive directors, but it is must-pass-along to many others.

Your local United Way organization needs to consider this when they think up some new requirement you need to fulfill in your spare time.

Your local foundations might benefit from a look see as they consider how much non-program-specific money they offer to grant-seekers.

And don't neglect to forward it along with a light and gracious "thought you'd enjoy this excellent piece!" to anybody you have ever heard tossing off that old "nonprofits need to act more like business" thing. (That particular comment has always reminded me of that old song: Why Can't a Woman be more Like a Man?)

It should be a required reading for students in nonprofit management programs.

Finally, in my opinion, all board members, particularly those from the business sector, need this article in their orientation packets.

As always, we would love to hear what you think about and how you use this article.