For-Profit Superman to the Rescue?

This morning was like most Tuesday mornings: arrive to the office, read up on local and nonprofit news, and meet with the rest of the development department. After the meeting, I got my black tea and oatmeal and set up at my desk to listen to a webinar that our CEO had forwarded to me. She likes to see if we can get connected with the latest and greatest social media outlets, so when she hears about something new, she usually asks me to look into it. I’m happy to oblige – the more I learn, the better off everyone is.

The product was a social media platform where people could create a profile, join projects, raise money for causes, etc. The platform itself is not what I have issues with – I am sure some nonprofits are gaining supporters and raising funds for very important projects. The issue I have is who started this platform: two brothers with a retail background.

Why do people in the for-profit world think they can fix all the problems in the nonprofit world?

I’m not talking problems as in environmental destruction, homelessness, or lack of adequate education. I’m talking organizational problems. Marketing problems. Fundraising problems. Basically, what I do.

This particular group focused on making the experience of donating fun. Their website is littered with jokes, incentives, and peer pressure to get other people to participate. They even have the option that someone can donate anonymously to a project but they will leak their information… apparently inspired by a joke on Curb Your Enthusiasm that people like to donate anonymously to look selfless but really want everyone to know how great they are.

Huh????

I don’t know any nonprofit that would institute a policy like this, or believe it’s acceptable and encourage that people can do such a thing. I know, I know, this is supposed to all be a joke and all be in good fun. But I would invite any of them to spend one hour with a homeless mother using the charity’s services to clothe her children. I don’t think she’ll be laughing.

I don’t want to get stuck on the details. I know that these people have the best of intentions. They believe they are taking their experience and applying it to the greater good. The hard truth is that they have no idea what nonprofits go through on a day to day basis. Until you’ve been a nonprofit staffer, you don’t understand the concept of inadequate manpower. Dedicating time to social media is important, but every second that is dedicated to a site like that is being taken away from cultivating major donors, writing grants, and working on annual galas. Nonprofit staffers have to pick and choose what they spend their time on, and simply because something is good does not make it worth it.

I am very appreciative for all that these groups and individuals are working for. Like I said, they have the best of intentions. I just wish they would get more input from nonprofit staffers in their product development – or any at all.

-N.C.

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