So, every time I hear fellow nonprofit workers complaining about going to networking events and hearing a person say, “I want to start my own nonprofit!” I want to say,
“Why are you pooh-poohing their idea? Maybe it’s a good idea! Maybe we DO need another nonprofit to deal with this issue!”
There are a lot of nonprofits that do similar things, it’s true.
There are also a lot of nonprofits that seem to be unusually resistant to change, that do not like to collaborate, and that are remarkably isolated for the national movements they’re part of.
And for this, we need to not try to change them from within, for too often nonprofits would rather fire change-makers rather than actually listen to them.
So for this we need to create our own nonprofits.
If you still believe that we have too many nonprofits, then do a little survey.
Research idealist.org or do a quick google search and tell me how many nonprofits there are in your town that do the exact same thing, and how many ways they overlap services.
Frankly, I think that there will never stop being a need for nonprofits to do the things that government is increasingly backing away from doing.
As schools are teaching to the test instead of encouraging children to broaden their love of learning, we find after-school programs funded by nonprofits doing just that.
As federal programs for job training are being phased out, we find nonprofits stepping up to the plate, creating career fairs and computer labs to retrain people out of work.
As governments defund programs for the homeless, we find a surge in need, and homeless services nonprofits banding together, sharing resources, and helping people more than ever before.
Starting a nonprofit is like starting a small business, but instead of saying, “Here’s a way I can make money and help my family”, more likely the person starting the nonprofit is saying,
“Here’s a way I can make money AND solve this societal problem.”
If 90% of new businesses fail, then should we be surprised that many new nonprofits fail too? Should we be worried if they do? Maybe not!
I mean, come on! We have tech for-profits starting up every day, and no one says to them, “There are too many tech startups! Cut it out already, there’s not enough need!” because frankly, we are all on the internet, and we read things CONSTANTLY. We’re always looking for information or for ways to make our lives easier.
We are all out in the world, and we see the need for nonprofits constantly, whether we go to the hospital because we have no health insurance, or whether we see a homeless man asking us for change.
We see the need when we go to the grocery store and have the option to donate to charity at the register, or when we see trash in our favorite green places and know that our local nonprofit needs to help clean up.
And that reminds me. This week, for Earth Day, when you’re out walking, why not pick up some trash that you see by the side of the road, and take it to a trash can?
Leave it better than you found it.