• Nonprofit Learning Lab

Why We Need More Nonprofits

This is a guest blog and is posted with permission from Ejiro Morrow with Mockingbird Analytics.

Every day, we face new and emerging issues which is exactly why we need fresh ideas and new perspectives that fuel new nonprofits. Contrary to popular belief, it has NOT all been done before.

Starting a nonprofit is hard. Think of it as if you’re starting a new business with brand new, innovative ideas where you will eventually become richer than your wildest dreams. Then, take away the “getting rich” part. No one gets into nonprofit because they want to be rich. Whether we join an already existing nonprofit or decided to venture out on our own with a brand new nonprofit, what usually drives us to this work is the passion to help others. And in the course of helping others, sometimes we see service gaps that are not readily apparent to established agencies that are already doing this work.

Our ideas and thoughts are valid but how can we truly make a difference?

There are many ways we can go about addressing service gaps that we see at the ground level: we can try and make changes within our already existing nonprofit, which is much easier said than done OR we can take a chance, and start our own nonprofit that specifically answers that service gap.

There is a lot of resistance to the idea of starting a new nonprofit. The push back can be intense. We hear people say, “Well hasn’t that already been done before?” or “Resources are already limited! Don’t create more competition!”.

But consider this: What nonprofit organization was leading the LGBTQ+ movement 40 years ago?

Every day, we face new and emerging issues which is exactly why we need fresh ideas and new perspectives that fuel new nonprofits. Contrary to popular belief, it has NOT all been done before.

  • A new nonprofit offers us the opportunity for leadership in our communities without having to climb the “corporate” ladder necessarily. If you are a foster youth, recently emancipated and don’t have beyond a high school education, chances are that a lot of doors may be closed to you through a traditional career-in-nonprofit track. But your expertise in what it is like being a foster youth in “the system” means that you know exactly where the service gaps are and have some really innovative ideas on how to fix them.

  • A new nonprofit offers us the opportunity to stay rooted in our mission. Not naming names here but sometimes nonprofits can get so large that they lose sight of the mission. The agency that once began with humble beginnings but now pays their CEO $1 million a year plus bonuses (a story we have heard time and time again) will lose the trust of the public and give large nonprofits a bad reputation.

  • A new nonprofit offers us the opportunity for new collaborations and partnerships. It might be easy to say to someone, “Don’t create another nonprofit. Just volunteer/work with XYZ nonprofit that sort of does the same thing!” but sometimes in order to get things done, to be heard and noticed, we have to bring our own new nonprofit to the table. That way they know we mean business and will consider us a worthy partner. Collaborations are definitely the new darling in the philanthropic world and every funder loves a good collaborative partnership.

Our ideas, thoughts, and dreams have the potential to be powerful and change the world around us. So yeah, starting a new nonprofit isn’t going to be easy. But the payoff will be worth it.

Nonprofit Learning Lab

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As nonprofit leaders, it is important to engage in deep dialogue, continual learning, reflection and conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion within your own organization and the ways in which you serve your community and work in collaboration with others. Looking for resources on diversity, equity and inclusion?  Check out resources here