A recent study found that 12 million baby boomers want to start their own nonprofit or socially oriented business over the next decade. While this sounds like a wonderful way to engage in social change by improving communities, it’s troublesome news to those of us in the nonprofit industry who observe constant duplication of services and nonprofits’ ongoing struggle to sustain themselves.
Now more than ever, nonprofits are being forced to operate more efficiently, which makes us question why so many baby boomers think that starting millions of new organizations could possibly impact society positively at this point? Additionally, in today’s economy, more and more major gift donors are looking at their gifts as investments. It goes without saying that wise investors want to invest in organizations or initiatives that have strong track records of accomplishing their mission.
If you have an interest in achieving a social goal or meeting a community need, start by researching whether similar efforts are already underway—chances are an organization already exists with a similar mission. If you do however determine that there is a legitimate need for a new organization, keep in mind that your case for support will need to be unique, and you must be able to demonstrate how you will distinctively deliver on your mission. Ask yourself, would the investment of your time and money not go further in another organization that is already established, has done the research, laid a foundation, and understands the opportunities and challenges, as opposed to a new organization?
At a time when nonprofits need your support more than ever, we strongly encourage you to invest in existing organizations; concentrate resources, enhance existing programs or help start creative new ones. Give these nonprofits not only your money but your time and don’t assume that starting your own organization is the best thing for your community.