Mission vs. Money?

6 Jan

I work for non-profits because I want my work to matter to me. I want to be inspired. The mission is important to me — just as it is for so many people in the non-profit community. However, I’m also money driven, and for many people these are diametrically opposed ideas. Some think that “Mission driven” means that your heart is in it and you’d do anything for the cause, whereas “Money driven” means that you’re corporate, greedy, and can’t possibly have your priorities straight.

The truth is that a mission without money is like a car without wheels. If you’re serious about making a difference in your corner of the world, you’re going to need money. And the best non-profits do a really good job of showing how money directly affects the mission. (When you sponsor a goat from Heifer International you know exactly how your money is being used.)

So while many folks didn’t join the non-profit community because of their passion for business, we’re starting to realize that if we’re not smart business owners our mission will never take off.

Didn’t go to business school? (Me neither.) So here’s lesson #1:

Profit = Revenue – Expenses

Most people focus on the revenue end of the equation, but I’ve found that it’s often a lot easier to make a big difference in the expenses end of things — and the impact is the same. Whether you make an additional $100 a month or you cut spending by $100 dollars, profit goes up by $100. You can’t always control how much you sell or how many donations you receive, but you have a great deal of control over how much you spend.

Therefore, I’m dedicating this blog to helping non-profits cut expenses. Because, as they say, a penny saved is a penny earned.


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