It seems that every day I hear from someone who is starting another non-profit business or ministry and wants me to contribute money. And along with that, there is usually the implication that the non-profit has a higher calling and Godliness than any business that makes money could possibly have. Do you really think that just because an organization lists itself as non-profit that they are doing work that is more worthwhile than a regular for-profit one?
No, what I observe is that many people ignore the basics of making any organization great and simply hope that others will fund their lack of business skills and inefficiency. In a follow-up to Good to Great, author Jim Collins said any organization must blend three components:
(1) What is your Passion?
(2) What can you do with Excellence? and
(3) What is your Economic Model?
Lacking clarity in any of those will cause you to fail. Many worthy non-profits fail because they think they can use “faith” and “hope” as substitutes for having a clear Economic Model?
For-profits go out of business all the time – and rightfully so. Poor financial controls, inability to adapt, fierce competition, ineffective management, and desire to move on all contribute to the rapid closing of businesses. Often a purpose was completed, or a window of opportunity has passed and the business closes its doors peacefully.
No organization should exist simply to exist. In a recent Fast Company article (
Why Charities Should Die Edit(7/1/2017): article no longer available) Nancy Lublin said, “A non-profit exists to cure something, address an issue, or elevate the status of a group of people; if and when that’s achieved, we should be done.” If the purpose has been accomplished, new methods have made it obsolete, no self-sustaining economic model is in place, or management is ineffective, any organization should cease to exist. Don’t expect to use guilt or pity as your method of funding your operation.
Social entrepreneurship and Ethical capitalism are honorable forms of doing good in the world today. Check out Tom’s Shoes, Puravida Coffee, Kiva, and many others as examples. Many in the 48Days.net community are building businesses where they are thriving financially AND doing good around the world. You really can do WELL and do GOOD at the same time.
Starting a non-profit is not a Godly thing to do if there is no plan for how revenue will be generated and spent. And no, being unemployed for a long period of time is probably not God’s way of telling you to start a non-profit. Prove you can make money in the real world and you can fund any good works you are drawn to.