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Non-Profit profits

2010-07-27 20:45:12.863251+00 by Dan Lyke 3 comments

New York Times: Lawmakers Seeking Cuts Look at Nonprofit Salaries talks about, for instance, the president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America making a million bucks a year. Philip Greenspun has some additional commentary.

This past year Charlene and I have been fairly active in volunteering and giving, but we've been trying to be personally involved, and to give money only to organizations where we understand the compensation structure and costs involved. I think it's important to remember that "non-profit" is a tax status, and you should read the Form 990 of the organizations you're giving to (see Guidestar.org if you can't find it otherwise).

I think some of the real eye-opener is looking at how much some of these charitable organizations that are out asking for our money are already pulling down in tax dollars.

But this also leads down to some other questions: I accept it as a given that eventually every organization will switch from trying to solve the problem it was formed to solve into self-perpetuation mode. I also see that a lot of charity ends up helping in the short term, but perpetuating the cycles that it claims to solve in the long-term. I'm happy, for instance, to help provide outlets and activities for the underprivileged (for what that word means) kids in my community, and to help some of their parents achieve better lives for themselves, but unless these activities change the cultural context, encourage these low income families to have fewer (or no) kids, have the expectation that women will be able to make a way for themselves in the world without relying on men (who may skip out on them, or end up in prison, etc), we're not solving the problem. In fact, we're probably, long-term, making the situation worse.

Related to that, Scarleteen has just lost their Google AdWords revenue.

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-29 16:18:19.009217+00 by: Dan Lyke

Or, in relative terms, are the people running the organization giving more to the cause than they're asking from me?

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-29 15:19:49.796768+00 by: petronius

Maybe the question to ask is how much service is still being given to the suffering, or whatever the aim of the organization is. If it is still helping people, maybe the salries of the managers isn't so much a problem. Of course, you could also look at the pattern of Alcoholics Anonymous, which does not accept outside contributions, limits contributions from members to $3,000 anually (see page 4), and does not engage in joint ventures with outside organizations. The result has been an extremely poor but streamlined organizational structure.

#Comment Re: made: 2010-07-27 22:44:08.952835+00 by: jeff

I believe that many "not-for-profit organizations," once they reach a certain critical mass of size, begin to lose sight of their original premise, and are drawn inexorably towards capitalistic "growth-for-the-sake-of-growth" practices.