...so could we perhaps stop producing expensive reports that say the same thing?
There’s rarely a day that goes by that we don’t see yet another report about something that’s already been studied to death and that many see as “stating the obvious.” So why do these studies keep getting funded, disseminated and reported on?
To save on funds—after all, everyone’s cutting back these days, right?—perhaps we could start a viral list of all the things that most of us in the nonprofit sector think are pretty much established. Then maybe we could move forward in trying to develop research studies that dig down a bit deeper on these issues—or explore others that we don’t know much about—and unearth some truly new information that helps nonprofits and funders that could benefit from it.
Here’s my start. I’m sure there are many others, so I’m hoping that others will chime in either on this blog or via some kind of viral dissemination of the list so that an information “baseline” can be established for those wanting to do or support a new study. (And, of course, if any of the following aren’t necessarily common knowledge, it’d be good to know that, too.)
Things That Have Pretty Much Been Established -- Add to the List!
- Nonprofits want and need general support.
- Ditto for multi-year funding.
- Most funders are reluctant to provide either general support or multi-year funding to nonprofits.
- Good governance by nonprofit boards can help to increase nonprofits’ effectiveness and minimize risks.
- There is inherent tension in the grantseeker/grantmaker relationship because of power imbalances and/or disrespectful behavior (usually ascribed to grantmakers but not always).
- Good evaluation is important but it costs money and takes time.
- Business practices can be good to incorporate in nonprofit operations but they’re not the magic bullet.
- Volunteers are important to nonprofits but their experiences should be meaningful and valued.
- Thanking and recognizing donors, supporters, board members, and volunteers is important to do.
- Many board members don’t like to fundraise, even though it’s an essential part of being a board member.
- There is not a lot of agreement on the definition of “social entrepreneurship.”
- Voting is only one form of civic engagement.
- Technology is not just for administrative uses but also for program implementation but many nonprofits still aren’t able to use it effectively.
- Communications and marketing are extremely important.
- Measuring results is important but difficult because nonprofits have diverse stakeholders and a more amorphous “bottom line” that the private sector.
- Advocacy can be an effective strategy for achieving mission but most funders are unwilling to support it.
- Nonprofits are allowed to engage in advocacy, and funders are allowed to support it.
- Mergers are easier to talk about than to actually do.