The Paradox of Self-Interest: Are We Witnessing the Slow Death of the Non-Profit?
Meghan Nesmith

Bitter Betty! Love the term. Me, too.

One of the things that burns non-profit staff at least as quickly as the ongoing impoverishment is that the board and current management won’t set clear strategic boundaries on “the mission.” Endless whimsical add-on initiatives come and go while, of course, the money just … goes.

Meanwhile, the staff is worked to death to keep something unsustainable more or less afloat by working more hours, taking on more responsibility, and being stretched thinner and thinner to cover an ever-fuzzier focus.

Non-profit staff life has a weird, no-exit, nightmare quality about it that really makes it the Ranger School of office work. If you apply that same skill set and work ethic in a business setting, you’ll be a star.

In a typical non-profit day you’ll fix the copier, write the press release, update the website, keep the books, raise the money, supervise the volunteers, and answer the phone.

And it never gets better; you’ll never have the bandwidth to address the problems the non-profit was supposed to solve because the board chairman has a new idea, then another. The ideal solution is to have more resources; failing that (the probable reality), the next best practical thing is to focus on what’s truly important.

Get out while you still can … before the board thinks up even more “important” tasks for “someone” (guess who) to take on.

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