Nonprofits and Profits

Contributed by Eddie Ezelle

Howard G. Buffet included in his book “Forty Chances” a quote from Jake Harriman, “‘In the traditional NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) world I think we’ve created a glass ceiling where we can’t break through and solve extreme poverty,’ Jake says. ‘The existing organizations don’t believe they can do it and we have created so much dependency for aid, but they won’t admit their mistakes.’”

Which brings to point that a lot of organizations are chasing the money. By this, I mean they add staff or programs because they see someone offering money to do something not quite in their realm of expertise. They then head down the rabbit hole of chasing the funding for a program that really does not support their original mission or is on the outer fringe. There are several things wrong here: the idea that the money is there, and we must spend it. If we don’t use it who will? And my favorite, we can add staff and use it before the next guy can lay claim to it.

So, what can we do to stop this cycle of destruction and dependency?

We need to create revenue streams, however that might look. From building legacy funding to creating something that can be sold or supplying some sort of service. Our old ideas of a nonprofit being strictly a charity are and should be going by the way side. The idea that an agency or 501 corporation cannot have reserves is caveman thinking. We must have some reserves to survive downturns in the economy, or when donations drop off for whatever reason. Folks are beginning to question even more where the money they donate goes. People do love to give, but they really love to give when it’s someone else’s money. (Read as Government Programs).

There are so many levels of older thinking that should be addressed that it boggles the mind trying to think of it all, so we shut down and avoid thinking about any of it. I am always telling people to put me out of business. I can find other work, because if I am out of business, our mission to feed the hungry, at least locally is accomplished. I don’t think it will happen in my life time, but it is an end goal.

America has always been the country to get things done. The go-to country to help when needed. We now need to help ourselves to get off the “I’m entitled” bandwagon.

Again, how?

There are several ways of doing this from changing our government to changing the thought process. We could start on a national level by changing laws, but I have always said let’s start locally, expanding outward to neighboring communities and continue expanding to the state, the country then outside the U.S. What did our parents and grandparents do before us that worked?

If we concentrate on our own neighborhood, we might come up with ways that will work in several areas. Not all needs are the same. People in New York have different needs than in the bush. All people have a basic need of food, clothing and shelter no matter where they live. Once we get these necessities, we can turn to other things such as jobs, transportation, or fuel.

We need to start having these conversations, civilly, before we become a socialist society that believes “everyone gets a ribbon” type thinking.

Hopefully this stirs some meaningful conversations and we can improve all our lives even if only one meal at a time.

Thanks for reading,

Eddie Ezelle, MatSu Food Bank