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Can You Put a Price On That?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Dan Pallotta’s 2013 TedTalk,“The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong” first made the rounds, with it came a resurgence of a familiar conversation about how to cultivate healthy nonprofit organizations and avoid the nonprofit starvation cycle.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy captured this tension in its article Overhead Costs Pose Dilemma for Charities:

When a charity emphasizes how much it spends on programs, it “does a real disservice to the nonprofit itself and to the nonprofit sector as a whole,” says Nell Edgington, president of Social Velocity, a nonprofit-consulting firm.

All charities need to spend money on things like staff, technology, and office space, she says: “If you didn’t have those pieces, you wouldn’t be able to have a program. It’s meaningless at best and destructive at worst.”

But nonprofit managers say not all donors see it that way: They might be interested in a charity’s dreams, but they also want to be sure that the bulk of their money is paying for actual services, not exorbitant fundraising or administrative costs.

So what’s a grantmaker to do? Is there a happy medium?

Join the Conversation

NCG is proud to be a part of state-wide initiative called, The Real Cost Project.

Next month NCG is hosting two regional forums on real cost funding—one in San Francisco and one in Silicon Valley. We invite you to participate in a conversation with other funders, experts, and advocates of real cost funding.

Come hear from your fellow grantmaking peers who have adjusted their approaches to funding, from strong nonprofit leaders who grapple with this daily, and from experts who will share the latest trends in the field around real cost funding. 

Learn more about the San Francisco regional forum on June 9th.

Learn more about the Silicon Valley regional forum on June 10th.

Watch Dan Pallotta’s 2013 TedTalk “The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong