Thursday, December 27, 2007

Business in the Philanthropic World

Most of us as MBA applicants know how important it is to be a well-rounded individual and as this type of individual, many of us participate in various forms of philanthropy and charity outreach. I consider myself lucky because I'm not only a participant in philanthropy, but I also help with the tactical design of an individual's philanthropy. During the time in which I have been a member of my firm, we have launched a philanthropic platform which helps individuals structure their charitable giving so that the individual receives greater tax benefits and their gifts provide greater impact to the nonprofits they support. Win-Win situation if you ask me.

My boss keeps a slightly personal/slightly business related blog called Tactical Philanthropy. It's a great source of education for many philanthropic vehicles and a melting pot of ideas from the philanthropic community. Every so often, I read posts from his blog and this post reminds me why it is important for business to be in the philanthropic world. Granted, charity is about helping a cause, but it seems too often that people forget how important it is to effectively help the cause. The repost on his blog is from a thread where he posed this question:
Is the Red Cross Effective? I don't mean do they have low overhead
expenses or some silly measure like that. I mean do they take donor
dollars and use them to fund an organization that produces high levels
of social impact? If the answer is yes, I'd love to know about any
data that backs this claim up.

Thanks to anyone who can help.

The response to the question in my opinion missed the point. The question was simple, essentially, how you measure success as a nonprofit? In the for profit world, we often discuss numbers, increased client retention, sales etc... But we don't measure the nonprofits on the same level and perhaps we can't. However, we should be able to measure nonprofits on some level - whether it's appropriate to measure the number of people they help with a certain amount of money, or do they effectively increase the number of people helped either with the same level of money or perhaps the same duration of time. I'm not sure what makes a good comparison, but there should be one. There are too many nonprofits that essentially cover the same realm of causes, the ones that are inefficient should be overlooked, so those that are efficient may thrive.

7 comments:

HappyBunny said...

hehee... it reminds me how difficult to measure engineer's productivity. LOL

Pavan said...

You may have already read it, but if you did not, Peter Drucker's "Managing the Non-profit Organzation" has quite a few parameters on which a performance of a non-profit can be measured.

It is definetely a pertinent question you raised and I believe that non-profit organizations should look at themselves as enterprises and usher in ideas of performance measurement and compete with their for-profit cousins in driving innovation and excellence.

m@ said...

Yeah, there's a whole ton of books on non-profit management, but the growing trend of many NPO Boards is the desire for private-sector metrics. Anyway. :)

Thanks for your comment, by the way -- I've been getting a lot of support from my classmates on this one...I just don't like getting my armor dented sometimes...

Any word from Ross?

Achilles said...

thanks

your advice is right on target...yeah its the company of people that you enjoi actually...

Naah, i m not much interested in seeing the fireworks...celebrating with frirnds @ local pub is better :)

A-ddicted said...

hey paige,
nice food for thought, i do believe that mere participation(as i have have some) in philanthropic activities is not enough if you really want to be involved in these activities.....

A-ddicted said...

btw pavan,
i had got a chance to get a glimpse of the book, but now since you r recommending let me go through it again, for that i have to borrow it from my friend

globetrotter415 said...

Did your boss read the FT article?

http://www.effectivephilanthropy.org/