Nonprofit organizations have a problem.
Every year about this time, people start circulating graphics depicting nonprofit organizational waste. It really bothers people, it turns out, if they give to a charity and some CEO is making a million bucks off of those donations. But compensation is not nonprofit organizations biggest problem. While a few enormous organizations (arguably) overpay their leaders, the average compensation doesn’t draw much ire from anyone (other than from those who earn those relatively low, not excessively high, wages).
So in my view, that’s not the problem.
What is a drastically more pressing concern, in my view, is when people give to a charity and that donation is consumed by organizational needs, leaving in its wake another identically urgent need. Very few charitable organizations have found success with sustainable solutions.
How do nonprofits pave their own way to implementing solutions that sustain?
Sure, charities are always going to rely on donations from individuals, foundations, churches, etc. But they’ve got to find a way to fund their own work.
I have the great blessing of working with two beautiful nonprofits. In both organizations, we’re taking a stab at this in meaningful ways.
The 25 Group is raising money to buy cows for a ministry in India. They’ll use the milk from the cows to serve their orphanage directly. They’ll also take the excess milk and sell it the surrounding region, providing needed revenue to purchase other food (rice, protein, fruits and vegetables). Ten cows gets it done. They are $700/piece. We’re raising funds to purchase 10, so that’s a total of $7,000. But that investment will provide daily food for over 250 children in perpetuity. It’s a tremendous investment. Well worth it. You can donate here or on Venmo @the25group.
Clothed by Faith provides gently used clothing to those in need. We’ve served over 52,000 individuals in our six year history. This year alone, we’ve served nearly 200 zip codes in the greater Houston area. A bag of clothing costs about $25 to distribute to someone in need, but each bag is full of about $250 worth of clothing. While the whole process relies on the donation of used clothing and the work of volunteers to sort, fold, and pack these clothes, it does take some money to pull all this off. So we are accepting bin sponsorships of $5,000 so that we can deploy donation bins throughout our region. These bins will pay for themselves in about six months and, over the life of the bin, clothe hundreds of people thanks to the increased inventory gathered. It will also earn the organization tens of thousands of dollars because of our recycling program. You can give to support Clothed By Faith here or donate on Venmo @clothedbyfaith. For info specifically on bin sponsorship, hit me up!
I get it. Your money is limited. Your donations should be wisely chosen. But here are two examples of (pardon the cliche) gifts that will keep on giving. They will be given by you once and then given over and over and over again. That’s what sustainability is, after all. Cows that keep giving milk. Bins that keep producing inventory and income.
It’s smart. It stays. It is just what nonprofits need to do more of.
Thanks for helping us get there.