What’s Your Business?


So what IS your business?

I’ve posed this question to hundreds of nonprofit leaders.
The answers I receive may (or may not) surprise you.

First, there are those who proudly proclaim that they’re not in “business.”  These benighted folks fall into two categories:  Those who are simply ignorant and those who are hopelessly naïve.

Second, are those who tell me that their business is “saving the world” or “doing good.”  I’m not quite sure how to interpret these answers as both are incredibly subjective.  Donors and philanthropic investors have trouble with sweeping generalizations, which contribute to their growing skepticism in the marketplace of community betterment.

Then there are those who tell me that they KNOW they’re in business.  In the business of ideas, with effective execution dependent upon a working and effective revenue (AKA, business) model.


Whatever you’re doing to make the communities you and I live in better places, to be effective, to achieve lasting results, you MUST have a business model, that generates growing, sustained revenue.  PERIOD.

How do you fit?  Whether deliberate or accidental, you have a “business model.”  Even if it’s not working.

Take a moment to reflect.  Are you consistently generating philanthropic revenue at a level that not only meets your current needs but is on track to fund your dreams going forward?

Everyone can do this.  Yes, everyone.  Don’t every fall for the lie that there isn’t enough or being successful requires money and talent you can’t afford.  Or that people are somehow becoming less generous.

What it requires is asking different questions.  Not seeking new answers to the same old questions.

Simply put, it requires altering your fundraising paradigm.  Looking at your challenges from a different perspective.