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Giving Back Doesn’t Mean Going Broke

So here is a pattern that I am seeing all too frequently and I don’t like it…

There is this crazy and entirely unsustainable mantra in community development that you are a bad person if you make money and that all true givers are broke. It stems from the religion based penance poverty mentality I think.

Alright, so it might not be SAID outloud, but there certainly is an underlying hippy based covenant, that rich people are bad and poor people are more noble and give back.

I call Bullshit.

If you want to see the REAL movers and shakers in the room, look at those whose businesses are turning over millions; those people who are able to fully fund projects and programs and change hundreds, if not thousands of lives. I give you Richard Branson, for instance.

Why shouldn’t people make lots of money doing what they do well and then share it in a way that makes them, and a bunch of other people happy? Or better still, empowers others to create wealth and opportunity.

I have spoken to several entrepreneurial spirits recently who want to establish socially responsible enterprises but are being torn in all directions about HOW they do that.

Do they set up a not for profit?

Do they set up a business?

Do they set up a company or a partnerhsip?

WTF do they do?

How do they get paid for the work they put in?

Most commonly though…’I don’t need to get rich doing this, I just need enough to live on’…what are we NUNs now? Why are we selling ourselves so short. Why are we giving away our IP, our hard earned cash and brilliant ideas?

These amazing individuals know WHAT they want to do and they know WHY they want to do it, it’s the HOW that is confusing and here is why….

The Not for profit sector in Australia has a not for profit mentality (particularly small ones) , that means that they are not out to make money, but provide a service; but the reality around service provision is that you need to make money, at some point. What happens is, many NFPs end up with their hands out to government because they aren’t able to charge a full fee for service (if any at all) or they end up calling on their local community to stump up costs, either inkind or in cash.

Which is fine…except when there are new NFP organisations being set up daily, all vying for the same small pot and living in the same reality around…not making a profit.

Now, I am a realist and am well aware that not everything can be turned into an enterprise and that there are just somethings you can’t charge money (or heaps of money at least) for.

BUT there is no reason why people can start thinking differently about how they set up their social enterprises.

Why should someone set up a not for profit organisation that has cumbersome management rules, the need for committees, regulation and management when they could perfectly legitimately set up an enterprise to do the same work and make a profit, that enables them to reinvest in other work…

I think we need to start re framing the way we see ourselves as entrepreneurs in this space.

If you are fed up with giving back and going broke and instead, want to make money and make a difference…then join me, I am putting together a LEAGUE of WARRIOR AGENTS OF CHANGE and would love to see you there!










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