Monday, August 06, 2007

Small is beautiful

A few months back, three different ED's wrote me in the space of a few weeks and asked if I would write an issue of the Mission Based Management Newsletter on "small nonprofits". That's part of the deal with my subscribers: they can suggest topics for future newsletters, and it results in one or two issues a year that are user initiated topics. It's fun for me, since I get to renew my knowledge on topics I know something about, or research new stuff for areas that I don't.

So, small nonprofits? Huh. What do I know about them? Well, there are lots of them, I suppose, but not that many. I suspect that they are more volunteer driven, have less infrastructure, are more flexible, etc. Time for a little research.

I was right about the volunteer predominance, the infrastructure and the flexibility, but oh so wrong about the number of small nonprofits. Here's the key piece of data

While there are just under 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the United States (according to the most recent data from the National Center for Charitable Statistics), nearly 81% have total annual income of less than $100,000. So, while we may think first about the big 501(c)'s , the playing field is actually filled with smaller, dedicated, and often invisible organizations.

Wow. 4/5 of the nonprofits in the US under $100,000. I was really surprised. That's a lot. Why isn't there more attention paid to this dominating cohort?

So, I read and searched some more and wrote this month's newsletter on the topic of Small Nonprofits. Check it out.

An aside: I've been slow to post the last few weeks, and it's going to get worse for a while. I apologize. We're in the last stages of moving from our house of 17 years and our town of 30 to Southern Virginia. The movers come to pack things up starting Wednesday, and we actually leave Springfield on Monday. I will almost certainly be pretty much offline for the next week or so. I'll post again as soon as I can.

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