For Impact


Begging for Change

On Change!, Story | | Tom Suddes

There is no way for me to pull together some radical, transformational ideas around CHANGE without talking about Robert Egger’s wonderful book, Begging For Change (Harper, 2004).

Egger is a living, fire-breathing Social Entrepreneur who ran the D.C. Central Kitchen. Twenty years ago, he asked a simple question:

Why aren’t there more RESULTS from 84 million people contributing $200 billion to good causes?” (Figures, 1988)

Today that question has grown to 100 million people and $385 billion. Egger’s answer reinforces the IMPACT drives INCOME insights, epiphany and point of view.




He goes on to say that “most non profits have veered away from their original missions and are now caught up in the maddening cycle of chasing after (begging) for money … “

I’ve shared the podium with Robert, and heard how he challenged audiences to call a “National Time Out”… so that everyone around the country could ask themselves what the hell they’ve been doing and why.

Following are some ‘nuggets’ from this powerful thought leader that seem particularly appropriate around this whole idea of CHANGE (The) RULES (as well as my sometimes feeble attempt to help you CHANGE the way you THINK, TALK and ACT.)

“We need to … demand more and expect more from our nonprofits. We need to seek out and reward organizations that exemplify leadership, unity, responsibility and accountability.” (AND CHANGE!)

“In the last decade of the 20th century, nonprofits began to use a language and display an attitude that almost excused their performance. (‘What do you expect, we’re just nonprofits?’)

– Rather than winning the war on poverty, we focused on containing the enemy.

– Rather than looking for a solution, we found it easier to blame either a cause, political party or an economic system.

– As competition among non profits got ferocious, we tapped into advertising and public service announcements to raise money.”

”We managed to convince our donors to focus on measurements like ‘FUNDRAISING EFFICIENCY’ and charitable commitment because these were easy numbers to present. Yet we knew they didn’t reflect the true IMPACT, EFFICIENCY or EFFECTIVENESS …”

(Here’s one of my favorite nuggets, albeit painful for many organizations and bureaucracies.)
“Over the past 50 years the structure of non profits has evolved for optimum SURVIVAL not optimum RESULTS.” (Adapt or Die? Change to Live?)

If you’re not already on overload, think about this:
“Leaders and researchers in the nonprofit sector want the public to believe that our lack of progress in the sector is caused by INSUFFICIENT MONEY and RESOURCES, and that we could do more if we could build bigger entities and more non profits. THEY’RE TOTALLY WRONG.”

“We don’t have a shortage of funding or volunteers. We’re the most generous and caring people in the world.”

“It’s not that we have to say ‘yes’ more often or reach deeper into our pockets. We have to do the opposite. We have to learn to say no. We have to ask tough questions of organizations who are asking for a grant or a contribution.”

”It’s no longer about dollars raised, or percentage of money that goes to the cause. It’s about effectiveness and results … but it’s also about fewer programs getting more of the money.” (!!!)

If these ‘words’ don’t help you CHANGE your THINKING on IMPACT and INCOME…