Recently, my coworker Karen, shared this great TED talks video with me: “Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong.” Because I believe so strongly in Dan’s message, I wanted to share it with you in case you haven’t seen it yet:
Having spent the last 8 years working in the not-for-profit sector, I have heard comments such as: “I want my donation to do something, not to support operations,” or “operations are the black hole of a charitable organization.” These comments bring up an interesting point: can an organization truly achieve its mission without putting funds toward operations? For example, could The Canadian Canoe Museum teach and inspire our children through the exploration of the canoe and canoeing traditions? Or could local, national, and international visitors continue to experience paddling and Canadian history, character, and spirit all year long? The answer is no.
As Richard Perry so accurately states in his Passionate Giving Blog post in December, 2012 (shared with Jeff Schreifels): “If you didn’t have overhead you wouldn’t have anything. It is still mind blowing to me to sit in a meeting with seemingly intelligent people and have them imply that overhead is bad, must be pushed down to levels that make it impossible to run the organization and must be hidden in financial reports so ill-informed donors can’t find or discern where they are or how much they are. This is truly comical.”
Not-for-profits need to be more transparent and we need to re-define our thinking about overhead. If we do, imagine what our generation’s legacy could be?
If you want to find out more about the Museum’s financials firsthand, please join me and the rest of the Museum’s team for the Annual General Meeting tomorrow evening at 6:30pm (April 24, 2013).