Small Nonprofit; Big Dream

This story started twelve years ago as the founding executive director for the Illinois Valley Safe House.  I wish I had journaled all the ins and outs, the ups and downs, and the tears and laughter involved in starting a small nonprofit to end violence against women.  We’ve had more prosperous times.  If I have my way we will again.  For now, I’m seeking new ways to do business as a nonprofit that makes a profit.  I’m starting the journal now.

Have you ever had the experience where you see in writing or hear an interview or watch a video and someone is beautifully articulating what you have known for years, have tried to articulate, knew it to be 100% true and just couldn’t get it out in a way that any other person understood?  I did this month, first watching Dan Pallotta on (he has a series on there) which inspired me to buy his book, “Charity Case.”  He says, “We need a civil rights movement for nonprofits.”  We’ve had our hands tied behind our backs, we’re rewarded for spending less (even when it doesn’t make sense or further our cause) and kept in a tiny, windowless box when it comes to fundraising – where we use large amounts of volunteer and staff time and make small amounts of money.  We do this to keep our ‘overhead’ low.  We receive applause for this sort of behavior, but it doesn’t keep our doors open for services and it certainly won’t end violence against women or hunger or homelessness or plug in whatever social ill you want to see ended.

He calls for a movement to reeducate our boards, our donors, foundations and media that we are no longer nonprofits; we are social justice enterprises or humanitarian organizations or any other variation that moves us toward a smarter model and allows us the freedom to make sound decisions.  He says we need to have courage and we need to band together.

The Alliance received a technical assistance grant from the Ford Family Foundation and will be looking for that smarter model.  There’s a place at the table for you as an interested supporter or prospective board member.  Please call Chris at 541.592.5332 if you want to get involved.

P.S. This was written before our funding had been restored.  Thankfully we now have a three year window to develop the new model that will carry us forward.