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Billy Smith

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since Sep 20, 2016
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Recent posts by Billy Smith

Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

John Polk wrote:For me, I see a problem with many of the larger non-profits.
In my opinion, many grow so large that they become 'top heavy'.



There is truth to this. I've worked with a non-profit that I think was 'top heavy' largely from spinning their wheels trying to find good admin people and being able to manage their data in cohesive ways. Far too much in the way of duplicated efforts, wasted effort and lost information - spinning, spinning wheels.

The accounting and legal requirements for a non-profit are onerous and difficult for some people to understand. Good people and good systems are needed to make sure these things are handled in a streamlined, effective and efficient ways.

John Polk wrote:They need a real 'shaker' to be the CEO. Then somebody to manage contributions, somebody else for training, publicity, events, advertising campaigns, etc. Pretty soon, they have a staff that looks like General Motors or Firestone Tires. At this point, they need accountants and lawyers, plus a Board of Directors. Once they have reached this plateau, the 'corporation' is now consuming 80-90% of all the contributions, leaving only a small fraction to steer towards their mission.



If the admin of the nonprofit corporation consumes 80-90% of all contributions, I think their 501(c)(3) status can be revoked. This is a big part of nonprofit reporting. The programs - the actual work of the nonprofit such as the music in the park Paul mentioned, or providing education, etc. - must be the majority of the expense.  It's an important thing to research before giving money to any organization.

You might think it would be easy to lie about this or cover up a skewed allocation, but most larger non-profits are audited every year to produce reviewed financial statements. As we all know, audit firms are by no means perfect, yet in my experience, most audit firms truly are ethical and diligent in their reviews.



One approach to the Minimum-Viable-Bureaucracy that was attempted in the UK, was the One-Click-Organisation. http://www.oneclickorgs.com/

It was set up as an attempt to find an acceptable MVB for our local hackspace, https://london.hackspace.org.uk/  by automating as much of the admin as possible.

It's still a work-in-progress, so if you see ways we can improve it, then feel free to dive in.

This was created and set-up by volunteers who donated their time and skills to put it together.

It has a specifically UK flavour, as that is the legal environment where we are based, but there's enough information there to help people develop templates for the specific legal environments.that are found in your countries.

Please contact us about adding and extending the templates that we provide.

John Polk wrote:For me, I see a problem with many of the larger non-profits.
In my opinion, many grow so large that they become 'top heavy'.

To become effective about carrying out their mission, they begin hiring experts in many fields.
They need a real 'shaker' to be the CEO.  Then somebody to manage contributions, somebody else for training, publicity, events, advertising campaigns, etc.  Pretty soon, they have a staff that looks like General Motors or Firestone Tires.  At this point, they need accountants and lawyers, plus a Board of Directors.  Once they have reached this plateau, the 'corporation' is now consuming 80-90% of all the contributions, leaving only a small fraction to steer towards their mission.

The infrastructure becomes its own entity which must be preserved.  There is huge competition for benefactor's dollars, and the corporation becomes obsessed with its own survival.  The mission becomes secondary, merely a reason for existence.



This is a problem that is faced by all organisations that require some form of bureaucracy to survive.

Add in the "monkey-politics-behaviour" problem, and you get patterns of behaviour which are both, toxic, and all-too-human.

Try to have the Minimum-Viable-Bureaucracy in an effort to stave off this problem as much as possible.