Last week, the New York Times ran an article exploring a segment of the nonprofit/social impact sector that the author saw as a small minority of organizations, but one I care deeply about: those that plan to go out of business. The article featured Malaria No More, and their vision of the project’s work: to end Malaria. Here’s an excerpt:
Most notable, perhaps, is Malaria No More, a popular nonprofit that supplies bed nets in malaria zones. Its goal is to end deaths from malaria, a target it sees fast approaching.
The charity has announced plans to close in 2015, but it is keeping its options open in the unlikely event that advances against malaria are reversed.
“We never planned to be around forever,” said Scott Case, a co-founder of Priceline and vice chairman of Malaria No More. “We have thought of this more as a project than as an institution-building exercise, and the project is nearing its completion.”
So far, the number of organizations opting to go out of business for mission-related reasons is too small to call a trend. It is still far more common for a nonprofit to close its doors because of financial pressure, which is increasing as governments continue to pare their budgets and donors maintain tight grips on their giving. [Read the full article.]
Whether I’m talking about Community-Driven Social Impact or community organizing, whether it’s focused on a hyper-local community project or global-reaching movement building, it’s always the same for me: our goals need to be focused on a change, not on ensuring that we keep our jobs. Many colleagues, both in the UK and the US, have also been talking about this for years – sometimes referring to it as a plague in our sector, others seeing it as an affect of nonprofits operating more like businesses.
Two years ago, Hildy Gottlieb published her book, The Pollyanna Principles, and with it she helped bring together many people who were talking about and working on this same topic, even if they didn’t realize it. I reviewed her book in the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog and I’m still excited for the opportunities the sector has as Hildy explains them:
We have a huge opportunity before us to remodel our social benefit organization structure. There is so much talk both online and offline, from inside organizations and from outside, that “nonprofits are broken.” We’ve done step 1: admitted that we have a problem. Now, what? Well, as Hildy explains, we need to start driving our work with our vision of how we want the world to be, instead of what the problems are before us. [Read the full post.]
Changing the world, regardless of the cause, community or organization we identify with, requires a vision that drives us to actually make that change – work with others, don’t recreate the wheel, create opportunities for engagement that are larger than our organization.
But, it isn’t just Malaria No More, and it isn’t just those organizations and communities in The Pollyanna Principles. I know there are so many organizations, campaigns, and community groups making real change now. I hope that they can create a path for others to follow, an open book that others can learn from, and an open door for others to join them.
Get The Pollyanna Principles!
Hildy is celebrating the two-year anniversary of The Pollyanna Principles with a discount – and if you don’t already have the book, I recommend you get it: