Should a charity be operated like a business?

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that is a short debate on whether philanthropic organisations should be operated along business principles.

The full article can be found here.

There were some interesting quotes in the second part of the article that I found myself agreeing with:

“For starters, let’s not forget the reason we have philanthropy in the first place. It’s to support work that will never be funded or supported effectively by the market or government. By definition, then, too much business thinking will push resources away from the poorest people, the most difficult problems, and the most important solutions—which tend to be costly, complex and slow in coming…..

“I don’t see much evidence of a “magical alignment” when philanthropists and their charities share a desire for a return on investment. I see a weary shrug of the shoulders from nonprofit staffers who face yet another set of hoops to jump through.”

After 14 years working in international community development I understand that weary shrug as yet another compliance standard to prove systems or approach is made compulsory by major donors….That said we all know that good intentions are simply not enough to design and implement community projects that have positive, transformational impact. It is an interesting debate.

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