We chat with former D.C. Council Member Jim Graham about his new adventures promoting events at a strip club in Washington, D.C.
Non-profits are changing, both from within and without. Applying business-school models to non-profits is now the norm. Despite economic uncertainty, a new generation of idealists want to “do well” while “doing good.” And governments are experimenting with new ways to encourage organizations with a social mission, like “B-corporations” and “social sector bonds.” We look at trends for 2012 and beyond.
- Carlyn Madden Board Chair, Young Non-Profit Professionals Network of D.C.
- David La Piana Founder and President, La Piana Consulting
- Robert Egger President and Founder, D.C. Central Kitchen, and author of "Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All" (Harper Business)
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's the time of year when many of us think about giving back to local charities and favorite causes, but there are organizations and people, whose work is giving back every day of the year. At non-profits, charities and foundations they work in a rapidly changing landscape. Economic instability has hit most organizations hard, just at a time when need is higher than ever. So what do people in the non-profit world see ahead?
MR. KOJO NNAMDIIt's a field that's changing fast with new finessing or financing models, creating hybrid organizations from benefit corporations to venture philanthropy and a younger generation who have social media savvy and is impatient with slow-moving solutions. Meanwhile the boomers aren't quite ready to retire. Joining us to discuss what this all means is Robert Egger, president and founder of D.C. Central Kitchen and author "Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient and Rewarding for All." Robert Egger, always a pleasure. Good to see you.
MR. ROBERT EGGERAlways a pleasure to see you, my friend.
NNAMDIAlso in studio with us is Carlyn Madden, board chair of the Young Nonprofit Professional Network of D.C. Carlyn Madden, good to see you also.
MS. CARLYN MADDENIt's great to see you.
NNAMDIJoining us from studios in Berkley is David La Piana. He is the founder and CEO of La Piana Consulting, an organization that advises nonprofits and foundations on leadership, strategy and management. David La Piana, thank you for joining us.
MR. DAVID LA PIANAThank you Kojo. Glad to be here.
NNAMDIYou too can join the conversation. You can call us at 800-433-8850. Are you involved in nonprofit work? How is your organization looking to the future? 800-433-8850. Robert, you point out that the nonprofit sector would be the world's seventh biggest economy and yet you see a sector that's still has to flex its financial and political muscle?
EGGERYes, well, I think that the word, nonprofit, has probably one of the more unfortunate choices of words to describe what we do. I mean, there's very little "non" about we do. We create some of the best profit in America. And, in fact, if you look at most chamber of commerce, when they talk about why you should relocate to a town like Washington, they'll point to arts and culture, they'll point to healthcare, they'll point to education. They'll point to WAMU and what they're saying is we have a great, robust nonprofit sector. And we in the sector have not used that to our greater advantage. We still tend accept what little is offered and say thank you very much.
NNAMDIYou think the use of the phrase nonprofit itself suggests a kind of non-assertive identity?
EGGERWell, I think there's interesting gender roots in philanthropy in general. It's considered women's work by most. I mean, and it's funny because in the 1970s with this explosion of charities, it really was my mother's generation, white women in particular, who came out of the home looking to work, but were told they didn't have any real skills, why don't you go do charity. Teach school or do charity. And what you have is a sector that has its internal sense of limitations, but definitely one that is viewed by the business community, too often by politicians, as nice but not necessary.
NNAMDICarlyn Madden, care to comment on that image? That nonprofit is seen still generally perceived as work for women?
MADDENYes, sure. The majority of our members in YNPNdc are women and between 25 and 30 or so and that makes up about 80 percent of the members in the national network too.
NNAMDISo that is in some respects correct. But you run an organization for young nonprofit leaders so we're talking, I guess, about a slightly different demographic here. How would you say young people are shaping the sector?
MADDENYes, well, millennials are actually one of the most diverse populations here in the country and working to get them in the career pipeline for a nonprofit career is really important. So we are looking at ways that we can bring in more diverse people, racially diverse, gender diversity, the whole nine yards and making sure that we're offering programs that are really promoting and retaining for nonprofit careers.
NNAMDIDavid La Piana, how do you think the millennials, for example, see nonprofits differently than the previous generation?
PIANAWell, I think the whole nonprofit sector for the last 40 years has been dominated by my generation and Robert's, the boomers, and what's happened is younger folks have gotten into the sector, is it's been difficult for them to find space in leadership roles. There's plenty of jobs for them on the front but not in leadership roles and because the boomers have really hung onto those roles and we are also not retiring when people turn 65, for a variety, of both financial...
NNAMDICan't afford to.
PIANA...and personal. Can't afford to and also, you know, this is the '60s generation that's still trying to change the world. We're not going to go play golf. We're going to keep doing what we do. But what we're seeing differently now is that as the millennials and the gen-Xer's and other younger generations have more experience in the sector, we're now seeing more organizations where there has to be a leadership group that includes people of different generations. It's not just the boomers leading and that's leading to some interesting conflicts in the management team and different ways of thinking about how to do the work. Questions of mentoring, questions of, is there a glass ceiling for younger people?
NNAMDIRobert, one of the things you have observed is a younger generation that has been involved in service their whole lives?
EGGERYes, you know one of the more interesting things, you've probably done commencement speeches. I mean, I love doing commencements but I find it fascinating that virtually every year we say to a generation, again the most diverse generation ever, one of the biggest, 90 million strong, raised to doing service. We say, in effect, congratulations, choose, do you want to make money or do you want to do good deeds?
EGGERYou know, do you want to be a dot comer or dot org? And that false choice is what, I think, is limiting people. Because the sense is to do good is almost a sucker's bet. And what you're -- what I think we're seeing now, and as David suggested, there's this evolution of the traditional charity model into this glorious hybrid of social enterprise, revenue generating, lots of ways to give people a chance to do well and to do good at the same time.
NNAMDIIf you'd like to join the conversation, how do you think nonprofits could become effective? Call us at 800-433-8850 or go to our website, kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. Carlyn, you've seen your organization double in size in the past three years, to what do you attribute that?
MADDENI think people are more aware of the need to build a nonprofit. We offered last year 50 professional development events and trainings, monthly networking events to get to know each other. And we also have a really great relationship with the White House's Office of Public Engagement and they've been very interested in learning more about how YNPNdc can convene national and local nonprofits and really give voice to national, local nonprofits using social media as well as the sort of middle management YNPNdc member.
NNAMDIThe politicians are interested. David, you see social media as a big trend in this field like most others?
PIANAYes, absolutely and that really does break down along these generational lines. The younger folks want to sort of see the work through social media often and the older folks don't quite get it. and this kind of merges with another problem we have, which is that the older generation of the boomers leading these nonprofits are largely self-taught, self-trained, less professional than the millennials are. We never had MBA's back in the '70s running nonprofits. We wouldn't of let them in and now every board is clamoring for one.
PIANAAnd what's happened now as younger groups come along and want mentoring and support, which they've gotten through the rest of their educational and youth activities, it's harder for the boomer leaders to offer that and one creative solution I've heard to this is the idea of reverse mentoring. Rather than telling the CEO that she needs to mentor the new young person they hired, because she doesn't want to do it, they tell her she's going to be mentored by the new, young person on the use of social media and along the way a relationship forms and the mentoring goes both ways.
NNAMDIMBA's now running nonprofits. Do you think nonprofits should be more like businesses? 800-433-8850 or send us a tweet at kojoshow. Here is Heather in Hagerstown, Md. Heather, you're on the air, go ahead please.
HEATHERHi, Kojo. I work for Maryland nonprofit and I just wanted to share that nonprofit employment in Maryland has been growing since we've been tracking the data for more than a decade and that has been true throughout the recent years. So last year, while for profit employment in Maryland went down by almost five percent, it went up by almost three percent in nonprofits. So whatever (word?) and leaders of nonprofits are doing, they're doing a lot really well. Not only doing good in the community but they're making a big difference in our economy. We're the biggest employers in Maryland, second only to retail trade.
NNAMDIAnd nationally, it's my understanding, nonprofits employment 10 percent of the nation's workforce, which if memory serves me correctly, might be higher than the percentage of the nation's workforce that is organized in labor unions right now or somewhere certainly in that vicinity. We hear a lot, Robert Egger, about lobbyists on K Street. We hear a lot about union lobbyists, we don't hear a great deal about the political impact of nonprofits.
EGGERNo, we don't, unfortunately. That's an area that I've been very, very interested in for the past few years. You know, there's been kind of this urban myth that nonprofits can't be both. In fact, there's a huge amount we can do long before we get close to the line of demarcation of what a traditional 501C3 can do. But to your point, really starting to explore the idea of how do we utilize our 14 million employees, the 90 million people who volunteer or are annual income differently and that's one thing that I've kind of segue way and I've had my own personal experiment in transitional leadership and then I've really moved on from the day to day work at the D.C. Central Kitchen and started a separate organization, now called See Forward, that is really the first PAC, the political action committee for nonprofit employees, saying, look 14 million of us, we need to elect people who show up on day one.
EGGERAs Heather just mentioned, understanding fully that we are a major part of the economy but with some of the innovations that both young leaders, but also retiring boomers, are bringing into the sector. We have a chance to become a real major part of the rebuild, the economic rebuild of America.
NNAMDIHeather, thank you very much for your call. Robert Egger is president and founder of the D.C. Central Kitchen, author of "Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient and Rewarding for All." he joins us in studio along with Carlyn Madden, board chair of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of D.C. Joining us from studios in Berkley, Ca. is David La Piana, founder and CEO of La Piana Consulting, which advises nonprofits and foundations on leadership, strategy and management.
NNAMDIThe occupied protests, David, I'll start with you. They're taking on inequality and corporate greed, something many nonprofits and philanthropic organizations do quietly in their everyday, in their work every day. How do you see the Occupy Movement affecting the social sector?
PIANAWell, first I have to say, the Occupy Movement is the only bright thing I've seen on the political scene as we go through this entire primary season. And it's a very nice counterpoint to see real people, unscripted out, asking for greater equality, greater access to the media, all the things they're asking. Right now, the Occupy Movement is a very nascent movement that hasn't really coalesced around particular issues and so, and I think it's natural for a grass-roots movement that kind of sprung up.
PIANAAnd so I think as we go into this election cycle, the questions, will they identify key issues that they will be holding candidates accountable around or will they simply be raising the awareness around the other 99 percent, the rest of us out here and that in and of itself could affect some elections I think. So I'm very hopeful about the future of the Occupy Movement and if anyone has ever said that the millennials and the young folks aren't as political as older generations like the boomers, this definitely gives the lie to that.
NNAMDICarlyn, you are of the Occupy generation so to speak. What do you think?
MADDENI think it has a lended a voice to young people here in D.C. I mean, D.C. has a very large population that's living downtown and I'm really excited to see, like David, what they'll coalesce around and if there's messaging that we can provide about nonprofits, I think it would be similar messaging to a lot of nonprofits they already have. So identifying those.
NNAMDIRobert Egger, your take?
EGGERWell, I'm, I think, like everybody here, I'm excited by the energy of it, but I'll loop back around to some of your original thought is that, you know, it's very difficult because of the way nonprofits are funded. We have to get grants and often times grants more and more are coming from corporations or government and what you have is a sector that is somewhat timid to flex its muscle for fear that they won't get their grant.
EGGERAnd that's why I'm waiting for us to cross this kind of Rubicon, if you will, of risk. Where, you know, sometimes in men of our offices will have pictures of Dr. King or Gandhi or Caesar Chavez and, yet, when the time comes to really step up, to actually act, if you will, and to risk our paychecks every once and while, that's what I'm waiting for. This moment where we decide together we have so much more to gain by standing together and walking forward than we do by standing here, hoping that we get another grant.
NNAMDIReminding us of exactly how much you provide for society, here is Alowishus (sp?) in Bethesda, Md. Hi, Alowishus.
ALOWISHUSHey, Kojo, how you doing?
ALOWISHUSExcellent. I sit on the board of directors of the Travis Manion Foundation and I'm a captain in the Marine Corps and I'm now at Bethesda, the Walter Reed National Medical Center and I work with a myriad of nonprofits that help support our wounded service members. I think something that someone mentioned earlier on the show is that, do you have to run it like a business? And I'll yes, in order to remain relevant.
ALOWISHUSAnd not that its, I think, you know, with standards and accountability and constantly looking at your vision and your mission and making sure that you add value because that what the nonprofits are, is they're coming in, filling the gap or maybe the government isn't necessarily. So I've seen that with the Manion Foundation and, you know, they've grown tremendously over the last three years and I see it daily with these other nonprofits that, like the Manion Foundation, support the wounded service members at the hospital.
NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Alowishus. David, business and nonprofits are getting closer in how they operate. Things like benefit corporations, there's venture philanthropy. Can you describe some of these trends?
PIANAYes, Kojo. I'd like to start by just responding to the comment that nonprofits...
NNAMDIPlease do, Alowishus, is still on the line, yes.
PIANAGreat, great. The comment that nonprofits need to operate more like businesses and I understand that the idea of nonprofits needing to be responsible, accountable, all those things but I think we need a different kind of metric for thinking about how nonprofits function because the goal of a business is to maximize sales, to minimize costs, to maximize return on financial invest.
PIANAAnd that's not why nonprofits are organized the way they are. So there's a lot of business practices that make good sense for us but the bottom line, what we're trying to achieve is transformation of people's lives, of communities of the world and so we have to keep in that mind and sometimes nonprofits get off on being too business-like, in that they sacrifice the mission for the financial return.
PIANABut in terms of the kinds of trends you're talking about, Kojo, there's a -- one of the difficulties of running a nonprofit is difficulty in accessing capital. As Robert said, you go after grants. But if you're trying to grow and you need access to more capital than you can get through contributed revenue you're somewhat limited and so these benefit corporations that you mentioned, are an attempt to set up and there are some related structures, to set up a structure that is a for-profit, but that says to its investors up front, we're not going to maximize profit.
PIANAWe're going to maximize social return on investment and so you might not get as much of a return as you would if you invested in some other company but you'll be accomplishing other things you care about. And therefore, these groups then can access the capital markets and this is still a growing idea that's being tested right now but it's very exciting. It's also a little scary for many nonprofits because when I was younger the idea was, as I think you said in the set up that, you know, you went into profits to do good and you went into the corporate world to do well, and now we're mixing those.
PIANAI think ultimately it's a good thing, but it's confusing to people.
NNAMDIMaryland is facilitating investment in non-profits. We did a show about that recently. But Robert Egger, these are some of the ways the social sector is blurring with business. Do you think these ideas are good for the non-profit world?
EGGERI think it's great. I think it's inevitable you're going to see this hybrid. You know, I think to David's point, there is an old model that said -- it's the Carnegie Rockefeller model. It says, you know, you're supposed to make a bunch of money in life, and then somewhere near the end to try and give some back to offset the damage you did oftentimes trying to make a bunch of money in life.
EGGERAnd you see with great intention, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates still kind of promulgating this idea of like giving back. I think what you're gonna see, particularly out of the millennials and I think you can also see out of the boomers is this sense of -- I think the boomers are gonna look around and say, look, don't make the same mistake of chasing that money. Make your philanthropy the way you live your life every day, the way you make your money, the way you spend your money.
EGGERI'm more interested in the evolution away from the traditional kind of give at the end of the year charity to how do you spend your money every day, that in effect, one good example I love is that if the non-profits of any community got together and created a seal of approval for businesses that said look, you want less DC Central Kitchens, support this business. They pay a good wage, they pay healthcare, they decrease the demand for these kind of traditional things.
EGGERMake philanthropy the way you spend your money, and that evolution of thinking away from that kind of giving back at the end of the year or two, how can my daily life be a form of philanthropy. I think that's very enticing to a lot of people right now.
NNAMDICarlyn, does a younger generation of non-profit leaders see old and new models of non-profits operating?
MADDENYeah. I was just trying to work through that in the last couple minutes. Yeah. I think so. I think that we're looking at these new types of organizations forming, the benefit corps and the -- all of the different -- the LLLCs and things of that nature, and those are typically we have found new people coming into the non-profit sector and innovating on old models. YNPNdc is really looking at highlighting some of those and highlighting social entrepreneurship, but also being able to recruit and retain people for the old models.
MADDENWe don't see a lot of transition and merge-ment from the old models into the new models. You're sort of either starting something fresh or working with what you have.
NNAMDIGonna take a short break. When we come back, we'll continue our conversation on the future of what are now called non-profits. Taking your calls at 800-433-8850. Are you involved in non-profit work? How is your organization looking to the future? Send us an email to email@example.com, a tweet @kojoshow, or simply go to our website kojoshow.org, join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
NNAMDIWelcome back to our conversation on the future of non-profits. We're talking with David La Piana, founder and CEO of La Piana Consulting which advises non-profits and foundations on leadership, strategy and management. Carlyn Madden in the board chair of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network of D.C. Robert Egger is the president and founder of DC Central Kitchen, and author of "Begging for Change: The Dollars and Cents of Making Non-Profits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All."
NNAMDIRobert, the idea that young people want to solve these issues by launching a company or an organization brings us to one of the criticisms of non-profits, that there's a lot of overlap in the field. Is there?
EGGERWell, it's somewhat of a saturated market. I mean, the IRS didn't pay as much attention as maybe some of us would have liked in issuing new 501s. But, you know, at the same time, as much as I -- I went through a phase of really being hard on the sector, you know. A lot of it I've become much more understanding and sympathetic to some of the kind of corners we're put in, both politically, economic -- some of the thing we've discussed today.
EGGERBut it does speak, and I would never -- I would hate to see us ever go away from the core part of America, if you will, that non-profits represent. I mean, this is a very uniquely American experiment, you know. No other country really volunteers at this level, gives, or has a tax structure and incentivizes giving. It's a very deep part of who we are. And what many of us want to see is just an evolution. We don't want to lose the core values.
EGGERTo David's point, I don't want to see non-profits become like business. Frankly, I'd like to see more business behave like non-profits. So I think if we can rush towards meeting in the middle and find this place where you can make a good living, but you can do it in a way that makes your community happy, and more importantly, that makes the men and women who shop at your stores happy, and that's what's coming very soon, whether it's the super donor, or the super invest -- the super shopper, if you will. People are not gonna want to just give to charity or buy a product without knowing more about the results or where the money goes.
NNAMDIDavid La Piana, you don't think the overlap issue is really an issue in terms of mission?
PIANAThat's right. In a lot of situations, Kojo, we hear funders in particular saying, you know, there's too many non-profits, or there's too much overlap, there's duplication of service, and then if you take a typical situation, take a community that has 10 homeless shelters, and each has -- let's say has a hundred beds just to make it easy. So there's a 1,000 beds in that community, and people say, why do we have 10 homeless shelters? Well, there may be 5,000 people who need beds, so there's actually not enough service.
PIANASo what we get confused about is that there may be too small of non-profits trying to deliver services, and so duplication of a unnecessary expense on the back side of management and structure that can be reduced through partnership and mergers, et cetera. But we don't really have too much service being delivered, particularly right now where we have the perfect storm of an economy that's making more people poor every day, and then government not having the resources or the will to fund the services that make that experience of living in poverty a little less intolerable.
PIANASo we're getting more and more people coming to the door of places like Robert's and needing help, and less and less money available to provide that help. So, you know, duplication doesn't really strike me as the right term, and I'm someone who's -- I've done over 100 non-profit mergers that I've facilitated, so I understand about coalescing and growing and making those organization stronger, but it's a bit of a red herring most of the time.
NNAMDIBut it brings us to another issue, Robert, non-profits were traditionally service oriented and that's what drew many people to their ranks, but you want to see that change. You mentioned Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez and others earlier in terms of their activism, but you can also mention them in terms of your desire to see what you call empowerment organizations.
EGGERWell, again, we were a service culture. Like, for example, when I started the Kitchen, it was after a volunteer experience of serving the poor out on the streets of Washington who were standing in the rain waiting for a truck to pull up in front of the State Department to give them something to eat. Noble to be true, but it was indefinite, and I just -- I felt that we were as a country better than that.
EGGERSo this idea of shifting from just merely feeding to employing. And for example, when we hit the wall of the majority of the men and women coming through the program becoming felons, and really no employers out there, we became a major employer ourselves. In fact, with the leadership of Mike Curtain at the Central Kitchen now we've added 50 new jobs this year, mostly for felons, starting at $13 an hour with full benefits.
EGGERSo I think that's the kind of model that I'm anxious for us to work together so that we elect leaders who show up and say, wow, you added 50 jobs? How can I help you grow. If you need access to capital, how can I help you get it? If you need a new building, how can I help that? So that's, I think, the merger I'm interested in, is how do we merge our voices and our votes to elect people who don't see us as charity, but again, as central partners in this rebuild of America.
NNAMDIWe got an email from Marsha in Alexandria. "Isn't the change suggested by Mr. Eggers a shift from charity to justice?"
EGGERWell, that's one way to look at it, and again, I just think that I came up, and this is why I don't want to project too much of this boomer stuff, because we all come in the age where we watch, some of us saw or heard Dr. King, or Robert Kennedy, or others, with our own ears. And so there's a sense of legacy, and it's not a Democrat or Republican thing, it's an American thing that we're a better country than this.
EGGERI was really excited this morning because I saw that the number of homeless vets has decreased significantly, which is a big deal, you know. So I just -- like I said, we're better -- I've always felt that as much as I love the D.C. Central Kitchen, at it's very best it's a stopgap measure, and we should never allow programs like this to somehow become the norm. I don't want to see less charities, I want to see less produce at the kitchen. I want to see more art galleries.
EGGERYou know, there's things I want to see thrive. I want to see you get a big raise, Kojo, and have like syndicated around the country, around the globe.
NNAMDIThat's funny, I wanted to see that too. Here's Peter in Silver Spring, Md. Peter, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PETERHello, Kojo. Thank you for taking my call. At the risk of sounding like an old man, I just wanted to share an observation. I've heard a conversation talk of generational tensions if not clicks sometimes. I've been in the non-profit world for -- well, I'm in my 70s now, for a good 40 years or more, and one of the things I have slowly come to learn now as I'm looking at it all, and I'm still involved, is that some folks have been given a chance to do their thing, the same way we were allowed to do our thing.
PETERThey need to understand the legacy, but we can't confuse the legacy with procedures of practices that -- of doing the things the way we did. I look at young folks now and sometimes I do not understand what they're doing, but -- or why they're doing it, but I usually like the results. Once in a while the flub up, but I flubbed up too. That's my only comment, thank you.
NNAMDIWell, I'd like to turn to Carlyn Madden to talk about the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network. I guess that's precisely why it was formed in the first place.
MADDENYeah. It was formed out of actually San Francisco about 10 years ago, and it has been working, and there's 32 chapters through the nation. D.C. is the largest, with almost 9,000 members. We host 50 professional development events a year, and we're focused on giving the extra professional development and training that isn't -- that the non-profits aren't able to give in their every day operations.
MADDENSo helping build relationships among generations including networking opportunities for people to be able to find jobs, the non-profit sector is definitely hiring, speaking to our Maryland caller, and really locating those opportunities for the next generation of non-profit leadership.
NNAMDIBack to the telephones. Here is Paul in Washington D.C. Paul, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
PAULThanks, Kojo, and it's a really interesting conversation, and important. I had two comments and a question. The first comment is that a lot of the necessary non-profit work is not efficient in classical business terms, things like organizing are slow and labor intensive, and take a lot of time and money to get to where to want to go. Second, a lot of new people who are entering the market, if they don't -- aren't rich enough to have internships get shut out a lot of the best and most important learning experiences, and access to relationships to move forward in the non-profit community.
PAULAnd last, there was the comment about Occupy Washington and Wall Street. My experience of over 30 years of work in the non-profit world is that the non-profit world is often politically timid in the face of a lot of the corporate push backs and inequities, and don't want to appear to be too activist or too engaged in social strategies for fear of losing grants and access to foundation money. And I'm wondering if folks have sort of a response to that, because in a book by Mark Dalley (sp?) called "Foundations," he showed how environmental and other organizations were compromised by foundations who were heavy in boards that were very corporate and, you know, sort of in the...
NNAMDIWell, allow me to have Robert Egger give you the second part of his response to that issue. You may have missed the first part earlier.
EGGERWell, this is the reason I started C4 which again is a pack. It's saying to the 14 million employees, you know, look, there's -- every years there's great mayors races, governors races all around America, and we really need to go out and work together, and the idea behind C4, which again is separate from the DC Central Kitchen, is we want to endorse candidates who have a detailed plan for how they would partner with the non-profit sector to achieve their vision.
EGGERWe want to endorse, we want to raise money, we want to get out the vote. I mean, again, this isn't just about people who say I heart non-profits. What I'm really looking for, and I think what we're after is people who say social enterprise, the idea of businesses that money but reinvest back in the community over and over again, that's good business for this town, how can I help it grow? Microcredit, you know, Muhammad Yunus' Nobel Peace Prize winning vision for empowering people with small loans, how can we, you know, when we work in the District of Columbia, I mean, how many different ways would it be great to see thousands of people open businesses up in this town.
EGGERSmall businesses, micro businesses, but that's what I think many of us in the non-profit sector are anxious to see how we can be part of that, but also again how we can elect people who again look at us and say in effect, bring your craziest ideas, I'm ready.
NNAMDIPaul, thank you very much for your call. We move onto Jeff in Washington D.C. Jeff, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.
JEFFHi. Thank you very much, Kojo. The reason I was calling was I wanted the experts' opinion on some abuse that happens in the non-profit world. There was a very interesting article in the New York Times a couple weeks ago that the son of Estee Lauder, who really pushed the non-profit exemptions and tax advantages of non-profits to in essence enrich themselves, and to push the envelope to points where there would be beyond the fund and really do serve to do things like give away my art fortune, but I still maintain ownership of it until I die. That's what it's saying. What about the abuse by wealthy individuals of the non-profit rules?
NNAMDIAnd I'd like to paint an even bigger picture than that, Robert Egger, because we only have about a minute or so left. The Gates Foundation is arguably the most powerful charitable organization in the world. It gives away around $3 billion a year. Other large philanthropic organizations are also stepping into big issues like global poverty and disease. How do you see their contributions, and do you see them in the light that our caller just said, that they are sometimes cynical manipulations?
EGGERWell, I think every sector has its bad apples if you will, and no one wants to excuse that. But what's been missing in the non-profit sector is any in-depth analysis of what we do on a regular basis. The Washington Post on any given day can say, good restaurant, bad restaurant, good movie, bad movie. Yet here's an industry that channels about $6 billion in cash to this city, yet there's no really dedicated news analysis, and I think that would be a tremendous asset for the sector. It would propel us forward to have an educated consumer really pushing us to achieve better, more long lasting sustainable results.
NNAMDIAnd I'm afraid that's just about all the time we have. Robert Egger is the president and founder of DC Central Kitchen and author of "Begging for Change: The Dollars and Cents of Making Non-Profits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All." Robert Egger, good to see you again. Good luck to you.
EGGERAlways a pleasure.
NNAMDICarlyn Madden is the board chair of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network of D.C. Carlyn, thank you for joining us.
NNAMDIAnd David La Piana is the founder and CEO of La Piana Consulting, an organization that advises non-profits and foundations on leadership, strategy and management. David La Piana, thank you for joining us.
PIANAThank you, Kojo.
NNAMDI"The Kojo Nnamdi Show" is produced by Brendan Sweeney, Michael Martinez, Ingalisa Schrobsdorff, and Tayla Burnie, with assistance from Kathy Goldgeier and Elizabeth Weinstein. The managing producer is Diane Vogel. The engineer is Andrew Chadwick. A.C. Valdez is on the phones. Thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.
Most Recent Shows
Nerds, assemble! D.C.'s third annual AwesomeCon is a gathering of the mid-Atlantic region's biggest sci-fi and comics fans whose numbers are growing by the minute. We get inside the D.C. region's nerd culture to explore the psyche of fandom from a local perspective.
We speak with the president of the only university in the country overseen by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops about the role of faith in the classroom and in society, the acceptance of Muslim students on campus and what the transformation of D.C.'s Brookland neighborhood means for his school.
Food Wednesday explores how a catastrophic drought in California is affecting choices people make throughout our food system - all the way down to shoppers at the grocery store in your neighborhood.