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Are NonProfits Distrustful of Money?
"There is more to life
than increasing its speed." Mahatma Gandhi
DISTRUSTFUL OF MONEY?
Dr. Richard Steckel caused quite a stir with the publication of his book, Filthy
Rich and Other Nonprofit Fantasies: Changing the Way Nonprofits Do Business in
the 90's (Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 1989). Although the book
is now more than a decade old, it still challenges our thinking today:
"Traditional nonprofits are distrustful of money. Many disagree with the
'bottom line' thinking of the for-profit world. They fear that if concerned with
money, they will lose their social goals. They fear money will pollute their mission.
They fear they will lose their nonprofit virginity.
"Symptomatic of that fear is their avoidance of for-profit terms. The word
'profit,' for instance, never appears on a nonprofit's budget. Instead you see
words like 'excess over expenses' (Saving money is one area where nothing succeeds
like excess.) Local organizations that report to national offices never call themselves
'franchises' even though operationally many are....
"Being afraid of words or money doesn't make sense when you have a difficult
mission ahead. You have enough to think about. If you become rich, be useful with
your riches. Fact is, the filthy part of our fantasy has nothing to do with money.
Rather, it means getting into the trenches a little, getting dirty a little, maybe
even getting roughed up a little because you are willing to take a chance and
try new approaches...
"Once you believe your mission must be heard through the Roar and the Clutter,
you must be aggressive in pursuit of it. Entrepreneurial nonprofits realize that
money is money. It's neither clean nor dirty; it's merely a tool to be used. Entrepreneurial
nonprofits control it, not the other way around."
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