A civic-minded citizen seeking the singularity

An entry

The relatively small surface area of nonprofits limit impact

Series: Civics
Date: 2022-12-24
Status: draft
Tags: No Tags
This Entry is part of the Series Civics.

About 10 years ago, I got a list of all the nonprofits in Solano County, a Northern California county with about 400,000 residents at the time. There were more than 800 nonprofits registered in the county (per the CA State website). There were more than 35 nonprofits that supported "education".

In addition to the elementary, secondary, and unified school districts in the county, these education nonprofits existed to support education. Or did they?

The average size of the nonprofit? 3 people.

How much impact did those organizations make, compared to how much money did those organizations ingest for operations?

Organizations come in many shapes and forms.

Yet, I find it notable that a nonprofit with more executives than it has employees is relatively common, and indicates an imbalance between administrative overhead (executive leadership) of organizations with hardly any employees, and it could be deduced, that apart from purely volunteer resources, these organizations have very limited capacity to serve the populations they purport to serve.

Thus, a philanthropic metric communicating how much money donated to a nonprofit is spent on goods and services delivered to the external intended audience vs. spent on internal and administrator salaries.

Other non-obvious incentives exist when it comes to nonprofits, such as organizational donations, which can become tax-deductible write-offs, and supporting non-profitable work directly in support of a for-profit organization.

What is the real impact of certain nonprofits? And for whom?