This article builds on three impolitic, unpleasant truths of which I have become persuaded over the course of my career working with and on behalf of nonprofit organizations.
Unpleasant truth number 1: While nonprofits work incredibly hard, with passion and dedication, and often in incredibly difficult circumstances to solve society’s most intractable problems, there is virtually no credible evidence that most nonprofit organizations actually produce any social value.
Unpleasant truth number 2: Because so few nonprofits are willing to face this fact and ask themselves whether they are doing any good at all, or even as much good as they may be doing harm, we cannot rely on direct service nonprofits to fix themselves without a serious push.
Unpleasant truth number 3: In general, nonprofits do what their funders tell them to do. When funders make demands, more often than not the vision, mission, goals and objectives of nonprofit organizations give way. As the saying goes, We are what we eat. . . . and most nonprofits are what their funders make them.
So, in the end, it will have to be the nonprofit sectors’ funders (government, foundations, donors) who take the lead in building a strong, effective and efficient nonprofit sector — a sector that delivers what it promises, to those who need it most in order to have a decent shot at a productive, healthy, satisfying life.
This will be the end of charity — and the flourishing of effective social investing.
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