Why nonprofits need overhead: Focus on overhead can hurt charity's bottom line

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  • Madden Herriman, UT
    Oct. 16, 2012 2:52 p.m.

    I was happy to see this article. I could have zero overhead if I just gave cash to the needy...but do I really trust that will achieve any measurable goals? Not at all. Charities have drive and focus to accomplish things. It is too bad that many people confuse investment with success.

    Many feel like we measure how well we are doing by counting the dollars going into education or programs for the needs. In reality, we need to measure success by the outcomes. If Utah is 50th in the nation in education spending but achieves an outcome of students scoring in the top half of the nation, isn't that success? Sure, we can talk about investing more to push us into the top 10% of scoring, but focusing on the money side instead of the success side will always lead the discussion the wrong way.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Oct. 14, 2012 6:45 p.m.


    Your definition of charity fails.

    Even in religion doing good does come with it's reward.

    While the motivation should about loving and helping others,

    Nothing about charity says you can not gain something from it personally, whether it be joy or blessings or even a tax deduction,

    one will always gain something from being charitable and doing good.

    Believing that one must have only pure idealistic intent is just silly and pious nonsense.

    You can not separate rewards from doing good, it is a God guaranteed part of it.

    And there is noting wrong with government encouraging charitable donations. Is it not the government's job to provide a "charitable" environment?

  • Ultrabob402 Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Oct. 13, 2012 2:03 p.m.

    Commercial Charities are business operations and like all business operations the true purpose of their creation is to increase the wealth of their owner/operators. Or in other words they exist to make a profit. The term non-profit organization only applies to their tax status.

    Charities often help people get over a temporary disaster. But in the history of the world they have not actually changed or fixed the problems creating the disaster. And in some cases promote the thing that caused the need.

    Example: Praise, glory and a great deal of charity is given to military people. And not one dime given to stop the real causes of war.

    True charity is that which is given without the expectation of reward. Charity with a tax deduction is not only not true charity, it is a robbery of other taxpayers.

  • Reasonable Person Layton, UT
    Oct. 13, 2012 8:40 a.m.

    We have stopped donating to several charities -- due to them flooding us with magazines and mailings.

    Overhead IS necessry; however, if there is money left over at the end of the fiscal year, you are NOT a "nonprofit".
    If you have money to invest in real estate, you are NOT a "nonprofit".

    We need to be more judicious in what we call nonprofits and/or charities -- and scriptures of any religion do not lead in that direction.

    We still give, but we keep it close to the source.

  • lledwards38 Canandaigua, NY
    Oct. 13, 2012 8:28 a.m.

    Contrary to what the article says, I do care about the overhead of any non-profit organization to which I give my money. I want to know that my funds are going to the cause which I support. I do not want it to pay for pricy offices for the administrators or professional fund raisers.

    My solution? When there is a disaster, I give to the LDS Church Humanitarian Aid fund. Other favorites are the Perpetual Education fund, and the Temple Travel Fund.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 13, 2012 8:27 a.m.

    I was out of room! lol

    This peggs it perfecly (from the article):

    "If the Gateses are primarily concerned with return on investment, giving to an organization that spends almost 30 percent of its budget on overhead seems like a colossal waste. So is their investment in Heifer International a mistake? "Unlikely," according to Larry Checco, a nonprofit branding consultant based in Maryland. "Bill Gates isn't running a charity," said Checco. "He's running a philanthropic organization interested in outcomes." As a successful entrepreneur, Bill Gates may have some unique insight into indicators of success, and overhead doesn't seem to be his priority."


    Today business is unpopular. I grew up as liberal and anti-business as it comes. So I understand the moral concern. But the outcome surely should be the ONLY priority for us. I don't care if a CEO drives a Maybach or a Porche. I care that he's adding to what is good and right. The more jealous we are as a people, we will only fight and destroy ourselves. I mentioned the Book of Mormon before. Well, believe in it or not- it outlines this very problem and how we avoid it.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 13, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    Very true!

    A more moral and virtuous society would help others and take only what is necessary for themselves (like the law of consecration). An even more virtuous people might even give without any care for themselves at all.


    1) We are not perfect. Electing such an expectation is not obligatory for moral conduct. The act of helping ALONE qualifies the existence of help. How effective/virtuous is another question.

    2) By refusing to give to those 'doing the good work for their fellow man', you only hurt the work and the needy remain in need by your actions.


    Even if you argued that "I do more to help than they do", disputing the other charity is still not justified. If your cause is to help hungry people, and you criticize a less efficient charity- you may cause people not to give or disparage other charity workers from giving their helping hands. You will have only hurt the very cause you claim to promote. In the end, it isn't the money, the efficiency, or the incomes of others that undo us. It is ourselves and our disputations and contentions.

    Consider these scriptures: 3 Nephi 11:28-30

  • My2Cents Taylorsville, UT
    Oct. 13, 2012 3:35 a.m.

    Overhead profit is one of the reasons you don't donate to charity, especially large organized nationals organizations like the ASPCA or ACLU or NAACP to include local help accounts by ZFNB for Poncho Villa's citizens who have hardships for illegal occupation.

    Every person is responsible and accountable for themselves and their families and begging and soliciting money or goods from others for selfish financial support (greed) is not our way of life in the USA. Door to door and telephone panhandling is also illegal.

    The other reasons not to shun charity is that we are not a nation that supports solicited governmnet financed Socialism and its politically selfish expectations others expect from the masses who have earned and worked for their successes. We are not a nation that believes in "sharing the wealth and success" of individuals an entitlement, regardless of the free Obama phone campaign.

    Welfare in the state of Utah is compensation for lies and granting worker oppression by suppressed wages and forced poverty so business will take advantage of government guaranteed substandard wages and poverty for their workers. The state will pick up the tab for business and low wages with welfare funding.