Sunday, August 26, 2007


Deloitte & Touche and the Points of Light Volunteer Foundation conducted a study that challenges nonprofits to consider whether time is, in fact, money. They make an observation:
(that) while a majority of nonprofit leaders think the greatest contribution companies can make to them is financial, corporate contributions represent only about one percent of the total operating budgets of nonprofits, indicating an extremely limited resource

and then asked 200 non-profit leaders and 750 white-collar workers about the value of workplace skills to nonprofits.

What do you need to run your company? The universal answer: money. The challenge: Aren't skilled management professional volunteers just as important (or more important) than money? What if (and this will be a shocker) there isn't enough money to go around?

They concluded that "Despite the fact that nonprofits and volunteers both place a very high value on workplace skills, neither are capitalizing on them to make an even greater impact on society."

Now the ball is in our court. We want the for-profit world and the public to regard us as well-run businesses (efficient use of charitable funds, forthright and transparent accountability, demonstrated ability to achieve performance goals, etc. etc.)... But, can we break through our own bias and see the new volunteer as an incredible resource? Or will we hold tight to the image of a volunteer as someone who would be getting paid if they really had any talent? Are our volunteers staffing phones or food closets, folding fliers, and cleaning hospitals??? Could they be (instead) setting up our computer networks, offering management advice, helping us with our public reporting, training our own management in leadership models?

Can we morph the image of the Candy Stripe-er into a "Suit"?
Read the Executive Summary below for a full summary and analysis of their key research findings:

Volunteer IMPACT Study (277 KB)
2006 Deloitte/Points of Light Volunteer IMPACT Study


The nonprofit sector still has a public relations issue. Why on earth is the public still wondering if we are businesses? Even Deloitte & Touche, a company who to all appearances is committed to allocating some of its valuable staff resources to nonprofit management, frames the question this way:

Although nonprofits are not in business to turn a financial profit, they are indeed businesses and they encounter many of the same resource constraints and operational and management challenges as any for profit enterprise.

Holy Cow, stop the presses. We are indeed businesses? Who would have thunk?

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