February 11, 2009

Not-for-Profits Can't Keep Their Head in the Sand

Catching up on some article I missed, I read the story over the stalled merger of Niagara County's three United Ways. Seems that Lockport and Niagara are ready to go but Tonawanda is holding out.

How, in this economy, can that possibly be? For too long, not-for-profits have avoided making the kind of tough decisions that have to be made by private companies. Let's be honest, while many of these organizations provide very worthwhile services, there is definitely duplication which means precious donated funds are being wasted.

After all, does every not-for-profit need someone to watch the books? Why not combine those services? What about marketing, p.r., etc? The opportunity for sharing costs are plentiful.

Yet, you hear the same old arguments time and again, like in this article from the guy running the N.T. United Way. We don't want to lose our community focus, we've been here a long time, people count on us, blah blah blah.

The fact is you can better deliver on your mission when you have a cost effective and efficient organization. It's this attitude that also permeates government and stops worthwhile consolidations and shared services -- moves that could reduce taxes on all of us.

I know when it comes to giving my dollars to good organizations from now on, I am going to start taking a closer look at their operational efficiency. I donate for the good of the community, not to feed organizational bureaucracies.

Kudos to Lockport and Niagara United Ways for knowing they need to change.


Barney said...

The county should take this in account when providing funding to these organzations.

lido said...

Hobbes, these entities are no different than the 13 towns and 11 school districts in the county, or anywhere else for that matter. They can try to talk a good game about being efficient, but the bottom line is that none of them want to give up their piece of the pie. If three agancies are rolled into one, two people are potentially out of a job. It sounds like the that the head of the Tonawanda knows that he'll be out on his ass and wants no part of a consolidation.

rob clark said...

Barney's got a good point.

Frank DeGeorge said...

I agree with everyone on this. I give a nice chunk to the United Way each year because I believe they are probably best suited to make sure the money goes where it's most needed. But streamlining their own operations so more $$$ flow to the causes when the sunken costs of the organizaton has to be part of the deal.

The other dirty little secret is that most organizations in N.T. are controlled by a small cadre of self-interested fools including Soos and Burgio. They have made the N.T. a friggin joke. Their goal is to use these organizations to further their own agenda. That's why they always oppose consolidation.