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Nonprofits are well known for their missions of doing good, whether that’s feeding the hungry, elevating art, or improving literacy. Less well known is the collective power of these organizations, which have improved life within the U.S. in another way: The nonprofit sector is the country’s third-largest employer.
“Social enterprise is like economic Buddhism,” says Robert Egger, founder of the DC Central Kitchen and LA Kitchen and award-winning author and speaker. “It’s the middle path between .com and .org that most communities don’t even know exists.”
This lack of awareness also makes it difficult for people to determine if a particular nonprofit is effective or not, which may mean the most impactful organizations are not getting all the funds they need.
“People can tell you what’s a good dry cleaner, but they can’t tell you what’s a good nonprofit. And that’s kind of frightening when you think about the amount of money Americans give to charity annually—almost $400 billion.”
And many key nonprofit collaborators, such as elected officials, may also not fully understand the benefits these organizations can bring. That’s a huge missed opportunity to help their communities and constituents.
In this episode of the Workday Podcast, Egger explains his unconventional path and how to build a more effective nonprofit mission. He brings decades of experience in the industry, including as a founding board member of the World Central Kitchen with Chef Jose Andres.
Egger shares trends impacting nonprofits and how to best collaborate with the board and elected officials to harness their collective power to achieve more.
Here are a few highlights from Egger based on our conversation, edited for clarity. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, and remember you can find our entire podcast catalog here.
“There’s no profit without nonprofits. If your town doesn’t have all the kinds of things that are traditionally run by nonprofits—arts and culture, communities of faith, healthcare, education, clean air and water, parks and rec—then you can’t attract business. You can’t attract families to put down roots. America needs a much more mature economic understanding about this symbiotic relationship between for profit and nonprofit.”
“I love the word merger. Many nonprofits hate that word. But it might be a bunch of nonprofits saying, ‘Why don’t we merge our backroom services and share an HR [human resources] department or an insurance policy.’ Or it might be nonprofits saying, ‘We do a lot of business in this town, and we generate millions and sometimes billions of dollars of income. Why don’t we merge our banking business?’”
“One of the things I’ve been proposing is what I call a ‘project-driven board term.’ Instead of a one- to three-year term, you basically build around a project that you want that specific board member to help you achieve. This model would make board members more responsible to one another, and they’d have to report how they’ve helped the CEO achieve their vision or projects.”
To learn more about how Workday helps nonprofits build a sustainable financial future, visit our website.