Nonprofits Following the Startup Model
Mashable recently ran a profile of several young nonprofits that are following organizational blueprints laid down by tech startups. Like a similar profile in Forbes last winter, the report focuses on a few particularly tasty anecdotes suggest a broader trend. Whether or not that approach is convincing, a few points within the Mashable story caught my eye:
- Startup technologists who are advising new nonprofits are encouraging these organizations to take on a single niche problem and organize their entire operation – especially their websites – around solving it. The typical tech startup does the same, “nothing more, nothing less,” according to one quoted startup exec.
- The nonprofit DoSomething.org nearly went belly-up in 2003 before an Internet-first strategy saved it. Now, one-third of its entire staff can write programming code.
- DoSomething follows the lead of tech venture capitalist Peter Thiel and doesn’t look at the educational backgrounds of potential hires when considering resumes.
The nonprofit and tech sector subjects quoted in the story speak constantly of innovation, particularly in effectively engaging potential donors, and of rapid growth. The leader of one nonprofit in the Forbes story bragged about “bootstrapping” from $25 dollars to millions in donations through a startup mentality.
Funding is vital, but is the effectiveness of nonprofit work being forgotten here in the rush? What do you think?