Four Scariest Words

*First off, Happy Veteran’s Day. This day belongs to our living heroes of America and the free world. And may those nonprofits and people that support them in all manners, receive all the help they need this holiday. *

Recently, I read an article posted on Facebook by an old friend of mine who works in local government. It discusses the four scariest words in government – “doing more with less“.

What occurred to me is that these just aren’t scary words. They are the day-to-day livelihood for the nonprofit sector. The sheer name of our sector – nonprofit – implies that we as individuals accept to “do more with less” to work on the causes we hold dear. Nonprofits, whether national or local, deal with the harsh reality of attempting to overcome society’s problems with no steady stream of funding outside of the annual grants and generous donations of people who share their passion.

This piece goes into details about how “less” can also be a good thing in regards to operations, such as less handoffs or less complexity. However, when nonprofits or social organizations talk about doing more with less, its not some clever redesign of organizational structure. Its often serving more kids, more families, more communities, more environments, more of the problem with less staff and less money.

In response to this, some nonprofits are exploring the options of having people pay for their services. Is this crossing the line though between a nonprofit service and a business? Is this a way to address “more with less”?

I know for me, the organizations that I assist, the mantra of doing “more with less” is all to familiar. It pains me to now believe that because of the slow recovering economy and a federal government that may be making hard across the board cuts – we will all have to adapt that mantra as fact, and not cliche.

3 thoughts on “Four Scariest Words

  1. Agnes says:

    This is a very important point. No one wants to talk about “doing less with less”. Doing more with less can be a good thing when operational efficiencies are involved. However, at a certain point all the efficiencies are achieved, yet the funding cuts continue. While some nonprofits may move toward charging fees for their services, this is not an option for many types of organizations, especially those serving the less fortunate in our communities. In addition, many nonprofits do not have any clients that they can charge, such as organizations protecting our environment or advocating for freedom of speech.

    • nickdicolandrea says:

      I completely agree Agnes. I fear that since government and the general public assume since we are “not for profit” that we should be accustomed to doing everything with “less money” than others. The new big thing now is going to be “cuts” in spending. Not smart spending or strategic spending, which would eliminate the needs for thinking so much has to be cut. This is especially true in providing those services (reducing poverty, increasing HS graduation rates, improving quality of life/environment) which we will see long term benefits, and short term “doing more with less” is expected.


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