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Monday, February 28, 2005

Should Nonprofits Seek Profits?

Should Nonprofits Seek Profits? asks a number of key questions:

  • What's driving nonprofits to pursue profits?

  • Are financial claims accurate?

  • Does this venture contribute to the organisation's core mission?

The authors, Foster and Bradach, are with the Bridgespan Group, a Boston and San Francisco based nonprofit strategic consulting firm affiliated with Bain & Company. The article is from the February 2005 issue of Harvard Business Review.

What do you think?

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with the central thesis of the authors, and certainly we all have read plenty of articles that espouse the benefits of social enterprise while downplaying or glossing over the risks inherent.

It was refreshing (from my perspective) to see a contrary opinion on the topic raised in such an influential journal.

One point that may be missing is a closer examination of the real cost of management's time. If a manager is spending vast quantities of time fundraising, then how can one assign a true comparative 'cost' to that time when it is diverted towards a profit-generating endevour.

I am a bit skeptical of the sample set, as well. Bridgespan's services aren't free, and while 'affordable', they aren't within reach of the majority of NPs (in sheer number terms). A set of just over 40 is hardly conclusive, anecdotal at best, and may miss a critical examination of the real success rate of social enterprise.

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