Doing Good Well
What does (and does not) make sense in the nonprofit world

Chapters for reading

Chapter 1: The Nonprofit Marketplace

The Missing Hand of Adam Smith

Charities deliver services to beneficiaries who often pay little or nothing. This contrasts with commercial customers who have to pay full value. To fund the difference, charities seek donations. However, donors do not always give based on the value that the charity delivers to the beneficiaries. Rather, they donate based on generosity, connections and the appeal of the fundraising campaign.

To bridge this structural disconnect between revenue and expenses, can the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith be replaced by the visible hand of the donor and the iron fist of governance and regulation?

Chapter 5: Nonprofit Mission

Endgame: Extinction

The mantra for businesses is growth, growth and more growth. The opposite should apply to nonprofits. Nonprofits are created to achieve societal change. Ultimate success occurs when the nonprofit’s mission is achieved and its existence is no longer needed.

Extinction, not growth, should therefore be the endgame for nonprofits. For many reasons, this generally is not the case. After all, it is hard to celebrate the death of an organization, rather than its birth and growth.

However, there are enlightened nonprofit boards and executives of charities – and even foundations – who understand the value of a focused mission, accomplishing it and then closing out.

Chapter 9: The Charity Quotient

How Charitable are You, Truly?

Does the size of a donation determine the level of generosity of a giver? Posed with this dilemna, I sought to construct a charity quotient framework.

In this framework, there are two dimensions of charitableness. One measures the external manifestation of the giving of money, time and self – relative to the giver’s capacity. The internal dimension measures the motivation for giving – whether it is for altruistic or selfish reasons.

Juxtaposing the two dimensions identifies four different kinds of givers: the Little Giver, the Value Giver, the Latent Giver and the Virtuous Giver. Unfortunately, most of the world seems to fit into the “Little Giver” category.

Chapter 14: Philanthropy

The Second Philanthropic Revolution

Today’s philanthropists are heeding Andrew Carnegie’s advice: Give away your fortune while you are still alive, or die rich and die disgraced.

While the size of their mega giving has captured the public imagination, it is really the boldness and innovativeness of their approach that is driving the current philanthropic revolution. Compared to the previous generation, the neo-philanthropists are more ambitious (nothing short of solving the world’s problems), more capitalistic (pushing the envelope of venture capital approaches), more personal (engaging directly with their time and talent on their areas of interest), and more collaborative (leveraging partnerships).

Chapter 17: The Rich / Poor Divide

For Richer or For Poorer?

In our capitalist world, the rich get richer, the poor get poorer. Charity is meant to redress this uneven balance between rich and poor. Unfortunately, the gravitational forces that favor the well-off continue to do so in the charity world.

And the dice seems to be loaded on both the supply (donors) and the demand (charities and their beneficiaries) side of the charity equation.

A large part of this is because the definition of charity has been broadened from being about helping the poor and needy (what most people understand it to be) to being about the community good.