Have you ever wondered why people feel the need to start up their own non-profit for a cause rather than just work with the non-profits that are already working for that cause?
Wouldn't it be more efficient, focused and drain less resources to have one BIG non-profit rocking the water problem, one BIG non-profit tackling the homeless problem, one BIG non-profit healing the disease problem, etc?
It has become trendy in my world to criticize non-profts in a city with more non-profits than any other city in the United States. "They should stop asking people for money and go out and get real jobs," I heard a friend of mine recently say.
But does he feel the same way about...say...photography? I mean, shouldn't there be just one BIG photography company that runs all of the worlds photography needs? Wouldn't that be more efficient?
And shouldn't there be just one BIG clothing company, and one BIG bank and one BIG school and one BIG government and one BIG church and one BIG TV station or film company where everything is streamlined and efficient?
Think about your profession. Shouldn't there be just one BIG [insert your profession here] to take care of all of the world's needs?
If you're like me, answering that question gets uncomfortable. It seems like when you start making one BIG anything you start losing something else. You start losing uniqueness, you start losing leadership development, leadership expression and-- in the long run-- you diminish a culture's capacity to create, not enhance it.
Not everyone loves being a worker bee in middle management of something huge. Not everyone should. Some people love to start new things. Other people love to run old things. Some like to take broken things and fix them, others like to take the best and make it better.
Non-profits and For-profits should work together when they can, absolutely. But the presence of many unique people tackling the same problems in their own unique way with their own unique social networks should be celebrated, not condemned.
The same goes for business, governments, churches, universities, and-- yes-- non profits.
We need more of them, not less. And the ones we have now need to be better. So get on it.
Posted on Tue, June 29, 2010