With a year under my belt as a new business owner, without a doubt creating a startup is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life. Excluding parenthood.
As I reach out to companies, donors and 501(c)(3) organizations I am honored to hear their stories of their WHY and the dreams of what they hope to accomplish, observe their operations and help them get there.
With more than 1.9 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States, a number that has approximately doubled in the last 30 years, these organizations are a major presence in our economy, employing 10 percent of the American workforce and providing 5.5 percent of our GDP. Their role in our society is critical to ensure quality of life for so many.
As I work with organizations – new ones and some that have been around for a while, it never ceases to amaze me how most 501(c)(3) organizations are 100% convinced their greatest need is more money. I beg to differ. As a former fundraiser, more money is not necessarily always the answer. Yes, money is important, but there came a time when I realized a shift happened – around 2007. Grantors started asking different questions. It was no longer enough just to ask for more money and implement a program. Funders require proof of social value.
I had the privilege recently of working with an organization that serves the poor. Our ideals collided when I realized that mostly what they were doing was handing out money; enabling.
And even though I no longer believe that resources are scarce and the money pie is finite, I still believe that we must be good stewards of what is given to us. To whom much has been given, much is required. Maintaining the public trust through transparency, consensus and accountability is smart business. And reality is in the words of colleague Jean Block from Arizona, “nonprofit is a tax designation, not a business plan.”
Abundance surrounds us. Opportunities abound. For the organizations, companies and people that are willing to work smart and pursue their dreams whether it be in the social sector or life in general, and not be constricted to fear and lack, the money will come.
As I reach out to companies to assist them in creating a social responsibility program, few don’t see the need much less the value in why they should invest in the community strategically in which they live and work. They are happy supporting the little league and give an occasional token gift to whoever asks. As a business owner, I see the value in a brand and aligning my business values to community needs.
In Houston there are about 17k+ 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and recently I have had many talks with Start-up for profit organizations. What I discovered is there is almost no difference between the two. They both go on believing that busy work will get them somewhere. Most do not have a business plan or have not done any research of best practices. A few of them have checked out the competition. They all have passion and a deep commitment to make their mission work. And by golly, they are going to make this work by using people who are willing to help pro-bono.
Here are my thoughts on that. We need a plan to get whatever we want. Got some financial goals, a physical goal or a mission driven goal? You need people with experience and knowledge to help you get there. You Tube, Google and the Internet in general can help us get there to a certain extent. If you are not on a time schedule count your blessings.
To reach your philanthropic goals, you need a coach, someone with experience. I can help you get there. I want to help make your company, your organization excellent in all philanthropic endeavors.