Isn't It Ironic?

| by Shannon Williams

All across our state and country, spring gala invitations are hitting inboxes and mailboxes. As I walked my dog the other day, the irony hit me.

When we buy a ticket to an event, we have expectations. We expect there to be enough food to make a meal whether it is advertised as dinner or not. We expect the wine to be decent and readily flowing. We expect the check-in to run smoothly; the chairs to be comfortable. We expect the event to be worthy of the $50 to $200+ we have paid for our ticket. BUT  . . .

When we think about that same $50 to $200+ in the operating budgets of these non-profits, we expect the non-profits to stretch it further than humanly possible. We want our dollars to go directly to the clients served. We don’t want to help pay for staff or technology or other vital resources that non-profits need to serve the clients they so desperately want to help. We expect them to operate on a tattered shoestring—EXCEPT for the event we will attend—that needs to be nice, especially if we have invited a friend that we want to introduce to the organization. We want the event to make a good impression.

What we need is a TIME OUT. It is waaaay past time for us to acknowledge that non-profits NEED resources to deliver their missions. We should not expect heroic impact on our communities without necessary resources. It simply does not make logical sense. Come on, people!

Yes, it is okay to have a nice event, but it is ALSO OKAY to have computers manufactured in this decade; to pay salaries that are competitive with for-profit companies, and to invest in solid webpage design instead of finding an unpaid intern to do it (no offense to the many talented interns). As donors, we MUST give our non-profits the ok to invest in themselves and in turn, have a greater impact on our community.

In the last ten years, donors have rightfully demanded more transparency and accountability from non-profits. In response, most non-profits have shown us that they are not only good stewards of the funds entrusted to them, but also worthy of additional investment.

It is time to REMOVE the double standard.

When you buy your next ticket, it is ok to expect a nice event, but I challenge you (and me too) to also think about the additional investment you will make to truly advance the non-profit toward a greater impact on the community. Let’s EMPOWER non-profits to truly USE their funds in a way that MAXIMIZES the return on investment - not just shows how far they can stretch a dollar.

Whether you are a board member, non-profit executive leader, a donor, or a volunteer, please JOIN our conversation. The irony is real. The double standard exists. Weigh in. I know you have an opinion!

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