One Cause. One Hundred Nonprofits.

Kvh_Elbow_300I am baffled and frustrated by the proliferation of nonprofits. Often, in one small locale, multiple groups try and serve exactly the same audience. When you dig into these groups, often they are offshoots of the same group. They frequently are started by people who became disgruntled with the original group. Instead of compromising (oh – bad word these days) and coming to agreement on whatever caused the tiff, they took their ball and went to play elsewhere.

The end result? Multiple groups trying to serve the same at-risk populations, in very similar ways. Duplication of effort and infrastructure result, accompanied by a huge serving of consumer and public confusion and frustration. 

And then there are the sane people, like the folks at Autism Speaks. This organization came about through four groups deciding that the mission was more important than the glamour shot that each individual organization provided their founders and leadership. This set of people dispassionately said, “We can do more and better work if we work together.” Instantly they became the largest group serving those with autism. Instantly their brand recognition sky-rocketed. Instantly their impact increased, and, I would guess, their costs decreased.

Can’t we do better by giving up the “I’m the founder” or “I’m the CEO” mantle in trade for greater service to your mission? 

Why should U.S. taxpayers confer a tax free status on someone who simply disagrees with management at a nonprofit? Shouldn’t there be even the lowest of bars to gain that status, like an evaluation of the need in that community?

Shouldn’t the requirement to start a nonprofit be more than “I’m willing to do a mountain of paperwork?”

Does the current system of conferring nonprofit tax status encourage a self-selection of people who are willing to do mountains of paperwork and are unwilling to compromise?

I would like to know what YOU think!

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