Should more non-profits be run like real businesses?

It certainly couldn’t hurt to run your non-profit like a for-profit business with an eye on the bottom line. Trouble is, many organizations end up trying to own the solution and instead of cooperating with other groups on an issue, end up competing with them for publicity and donors. Some social entrepreneurs are looking at new models of philanthropy as summarized in Bottom-Line Philanthropy.

Mullaney helped conceive a plan. Instead of using Operation Smile’s hard-raised millions to fly doctors and equipment around the world for limited engagements, what if the money were used instead to train and equip local doctors to perform cleft surgery year-round? Mullaney figured that the cost per surgery would drop by at least 75 percent, and he saw no reason not to try it. Operation Smile’s leadership saw things differently, so Mullaney and a few others left the organization and started a rival group, Smile Train.

Isn’t it interesting that we describe some people as social entrepreneurs nowadays?