Lessons for Philanthropists

This is the last in the series of “lessons for philanthropists” that Paul Shoemaker has been publishing on the Social Ventures Blog.

Statement #10 – I have a great idea for a new program – I’ll start my own nonprofit.

It’s the last time we’ll say it – just don’t! Or certainly make it your last option. There has been a proliferation of non-profits over the last 10-20 years, some of them quite valid and needed. This also means there are more and more small organizations struggling to get enough resources to reach some level of sustainability and organizational capacity.

In short, it is much easier to start a non-profit than a for-profit company, but it is much harder to effectively sustain a non-profit over the long-term. When you have a new idea, please be sure to look around to see if anyone is already doing the work you care about; or if there is someone to partner with or someone that might want to take on a new “line of business.”

One Comment

  1. Dave says:

    Amen. I think the nonprofit community spends far too many resources reinventing the wheel. There are so many wonderful models out there, let’s focus on ways of replicating and scaling those high impact initiatives. Some of my favorite places to look for great ideas:

    Ashoka Fellows
    Social Capitalist Awards
    Citizen Base Examples
    Changemaker’s Competitions
    GSVC Competition Winners