Do you know a nonprofit that sucks?

Or do you consider the very premise of the question insulting?

Or, conceding that some nonprofits working toward the same goal might be more effective (dare I say, more deserving?) than others, is it just the term “suck” that bothers you?

Sean Stannard-Stockton, blogging at NetSquared propagates the use of social web tools by “social benefit organizations”). Those taking offense have railed against everything from the implication that nonprofits should have business-like accountability to Brown's linguistic choice.

By and large we tolerate all points of view at The Agitator. But to those offended by Mr. Brown we say, “Get a life!”

Truth is, a lot of things in life suck …

  • Many political candidates
  • Fever blisters
  • Nonprofit execs who embezzle
  • Racist and misogynist disc jockeys
  • Losing in poker to a better full-house
  • The nonprofit across town that just beat you out for that mega-gift
  • Your boss (of course only on very rare occasions)
  • The federal deficit
  • The last loser direct mail package you never should have tested
  • Sweathouse labor
  • The nonprofit spokesperson who got the quote you should have had in the New York Times
  • Ex-boyfriends
  • The other guy in the coalition pushing the stupidest idea you've ever heard
  • Cheap bourbon
  • The nonprofit across town that just doesn't have as much impact as yours does, but still manages to scarf up scarce resources.

Admit it, you once said, “____ [Insert nonprofit or nonprofit leader name] sucks!”

Seriously, at the macro-level, resources donated to save the world are not infinite. And at the micro-level, donors who give out of noblesse oblige and don't care if their gifts to have the most possible impact are an endangered species.

It matters which nonprofits get the resources. Which strategies work better. Which staff is the most competent. Who deploys their resources most effectively.

Whatever the difficulties of measuring social impacts, of assessing leadership teams, of evaluating necessarily long term strategies and programs, the reality is, demand for accountability is rising sharply. Today's donors, increasingly Boomers, reflect that generation's impatience, its “can do” expectations, and its innate “show me” skepticism about all claims and institutions.

And in that climate, like it or not, some nonprofits will be found to, well, suck.

Tom

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