Are You Guilty of Stealing from Nonprofits?

One of my pet peeves is when organizations and/or individual use free programs from nonprofits and don’t pay. Most nonprofits usually offer a free service because they don’t want money to be a barrier of entry. However, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t receive a financial contribution from its financially-able users.

I’m not talking to the person who is in need. Nor am I addressing qualified families receiving help from local nonprofits. I know a lot of good people who offer help without being an official 501c3.

This is for the individuals answering yes to the questions below:

  • Are you one of those users who don’t pay?
  • Do you frequently use those services and not make a donation?
  • Have you considered how they will be sustainable if you don’t give back?

The 80/20 Rule

More now than ever, I’m seeing nonprofits are having a rough time sustaining the operating fund’s account. There’s so much emphasis on the 80/20 rule, some fail to ask the organization HOW the services are free. While 80% goes to programs and 20% goes to the operations–like staff, electricity, office space, and fundraising–some organizations don’t always break it down like that, but this is why you ask.

Don’t believe me? Watch this TED Talk video by Dan Pallotta, and listen to how he breaks the ancient method of analysis of WHY this is wrong. You can’t articulate it better than this. And yes- please shift your paradigm!

Therefore, if you use Khan Academy– donate!

If you use, Wikipedia– donate!

If you use, suggest or recommend a specific nonprofit to people- donate!

If you cannot donate, offer something. You can volunteer, spread the word to colleagues, family, and friends, share via social media, give in-kind, or help with events. Just don’t do anything (sorry for the double negatives). Big smile!

As a wise person advised me, “nothing is for free.”

I write this because my business is personal because this service is for the advancement of all humanity. My failures and successes are for your gain. No strings attached.

Nathan A. Webster, MBA
Mr. Social Entrepreneur
Consulting | Marketing | Websites



Author: nathanwebster
From a US Marine to nonprofit executive director, I've been fortunate to do a lot of stuff. My quick history is I’m a brand marketer with a background in social good. In the process of running a small educational nonprofit, I learned the value of storytelling and digital branding. That’s how I got involve in marketing, websites, consulting via my podcast as well, and being an adjunct business professor at the local community college.
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