Bigger is better: A new way of looking at nonprofits

Posted by on Jul 31, 2014 in ComLead, Managing Not-For-Profit Organizations

Bigger is better: A new way of looking at nonprofits

Nonprofits are traditionally held to the rule that they should do more with less.  Income is not as stable as the corporate world.  It can be here today and gone tomorrow. Government funding can be cut at a moment’s notice and donors are bombarded with causes that range from health and human services to animal rights, religious institutions and arts and cultural organizations – just to name a few.

 But many are starting to think of nonprofits a little differently.  Activist and Fundraiser Dan Pallotta sheds light on this idea in his TED Talk “The way we think about charity is dead wrong,” which was introduced to me in COM 615: Partnership and the Not-for-Profit, a class in the Not-for-Profit Management track. 

 Pallotta’s talk addresses how nonprofits are praised for how little they can spend instead of receiving praise for the work that they accomplish, the people they help and the differences they make.  He suggests that if nonprofits are given a little more wiggle room and can allow for the luxury of innovation that nonprofits can accomplish even hold bigger expectations and accomplish bigger goals.  However, it may come at the expense of just that: more spending and perhaps some investing.

 A more concrete example of Pallotta’s talk is Buffalo’s very own Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.  The campus is being called a major element in Buffalo’s revitalization by creating a comprehensive community of specialty and general care health facilities all the while consulting community members to make sure these plans are sustainable for the surrounding neighborhoods and the Buffalo-Niagara region as a whole. 

 Matt Enstice, CEO of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus echoed these thoughts in a visit to the COM 615 class this past spring semester.  Enstice’s message was similar to Pallotta’s: nonprofits if they want to thrive in the ever-changing world must take on a more business-like structure. They must be willing to take risks, be innovative and reward the workers who bring in money.  That means making an organization unique in its offerings, but also not being stingy and underpaying administration that has the capabilities to make a bigger vision a reality. 

 The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus is now one of Buffalo’s big projects that has been given huge attention in regards to Buffalo’s comeback. 

 The changes in how nonprofits operate can be seen right here in our own backyard.  Now it’s about making those plans sustainable enough to allow nonprofits to reach bigger goals and to see more tangible results in causes like ending poverty or curing cancer.  When a nonprofit operates like a corporation it can raise money not to just sustain research or to keep things at the status quo, but to truly make a difference in the world.

 We don’t have to look far. The potential for these ideas is being played out right in our own city.

Written by:  Matthew Gorczyca

Graduate Student, MS, Communication & Leadership

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