The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a huge success by any standard. I don’t think there has been a more viral fundraising strategy that has saturated the streams of every person on social media. However, along with this success, there has also come some scrutiny over how this non-profit allocates its money for the causes it represents.
For example, as I came across my news feed on Facebook, someone had posted this article from Red Flag News where it is reported that 27% of the donations to ALS actually goes to research and cures. This, of course, is intended to be unacceptable for nonprofits. Then they proceed to do the financial breakdown of the salaries of organizational leaders to add fuel to the indignation, along with the mention that 14% of their incomes goes to fundraising.
Of course, what this is supposed to do is question the integrity of the organization, raise suspicion about its legitimacy, and call for more accountability and probes into its operations. In contrast, the article proceeds to talk about other organizations where the overhead is remarkably low, and one even where it is said that 100% of the money you give goes directly to the cause (high quality foods). Ah, yes, this is what we want, right?
You see, that is exactly what I thought.
Until I started leading a nonprofit organization of my own.
Have you ever considered what an organization looks like where 100% of your money goes to the cause with nothing going to the organization? Have you ever wondered how the organization supports itself? How the leaders get paid? How the word even gets out that this organization exists and why its causes are worthy of your support? Most often we don’t because we are stuck with the “we want nonprofits with low overheads where all of our money goes to the cause” with little thought to the capacity of the organization or its ability to actually solve problems, change lives, and make lasting change.
Would you want a gift to an organization where 100% of your gift goes to feeding the poor if the organization making it happen only feeds a few children? Or would you want to give to an organization where a smaller percentage of your gift goes to the poor but the organization has a scale exponentially larger because you not only invested in the cause but the high-quality organization that is making it happen at massively larger capacity than the 100% gift organization? What matters most? The giving purist with little to no change or the powerhouse changing the world?