Stop the begging: thoughts on the potential closure of Rape Crisis

Letter published in Cape Times,
October 2008.

I was saddened by the recent news that Rape Crisis is facing closure (“Rape Crisis faces possible closure due to lack of donors”, October 8). This organization has done much good work and there is still much more that it needs to do.

However, this organization is not alone in its troubles – there are many more nonprofit organizations that are considering closing their doors.

Unfortunately, this is part of a larger phenomenon.

The rules for how to run a successful nonprofit organization have changed, and those nonprofits that still follow the old rulebook will find themselves losing the fight, and not knowing why.

Nonprofit organizations need to learn to think and operate differently.

They should follow the lead of nonprofit organizations such as Heart of Healing and Center for Early Childhood Development. These organizations have chosen to become social enterprises.

They have abandoned the idea of ‘not-for-profit’ and now seek to make a profit in their work.

This allows them to manage their risk better, extend their impact and spend on important overheads such as marketing and
paying for top staff.

These organizations no longer beg for funding – instead they ‘sell’ the changes they create in the world and provide a suitable ‘return on investment’ to their social investors.

These organizations are also very clear on the difference they are making in the world, and judge their effectiveness by the results they get, as opposed to simply how busy they have been.

South Africa desperately needs nonprofit organizations, but these organizations need to learn the new rules of success, before it is too late.

Marcus Coetzee is a business strategist who helps leaders to think clearly about the future. To find out more about how he can help you, call 0828799131 or visit Marcus

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