Running a nonprofit is like trying to cross the country in a car with a 1-gallon gas tank: you always are stopping to refuel, and asking your donors for more.
Seen in one way, this arrangement is highly inefficient. Time and energy that might otherwise be devoted to advancing your mission get taken up by the pragmatic thrum of fundraising activities.
It's just the cost of doing business in a business that relies, to varying degrees, on other peoples' generosity.
But this peculiar way of working is not without real virtue. It forces those of us who lead public charities to say, in effect, "How do you like me now?"
This is an essential question--especially when you consider that we have no owners or shareholders to answer to, unlike our for-profit counterparts.
Donors write checks from the heart or the head, and generally vote with their feet.
That's why we've twice hired the Center for Effective Philanthropy
(CEP) to anonymously survey our donors, and compare their responses to a data set comprised of more than 6,000 other community foundation donors nationwide.
We want to know if we're doing a good job, how we compare to our peers, and where we can focus our efforts to improve.
(Full disclosure: we also want to know if there might be a few more gallons of premium unleaded waiting for us at the next exit.)
I'm proud to share the results, below, of our most recent donor survey.
I hope you'll contact me with any questions or comments you may have, and would like to sign off by expressing my sincere appreciation to the Board of Directors
of Napa Valley Community Foundation.
Without their venturesome spirit and hard work--and the unstinting support of our amazing donors--we couldn't keep chugging down the highway as fast or effectively as we do.
Terence P. Mulligan
Special thanks to my friend Jan Masaoka, from whom I borrowed the line about the 1-gallon gas tank.