Happiness is Helping Others

Finding other nonprofits that work together is difficult. Most nonprofits do not network, but rather keep their collective heads down and work to exhaustion. Running a charity is a lonely, frustrating experience, for the most part. The thrill of helping is indeed present, and we now recognize that the path to happiness does run through helping others.

Many nonprofits have little professional businesslike structure. This is a good and bad thing. Businesses are businesslike, and businesslike is a rather dirty word here in America these days, in fact. Nonprofits tend to operate on passion that comes from real interaction with injustice or misfortune, at least as most people would define their conditions. That passion keeps the entrepreneur from spending time trying to structure the organization like a business that has to make more money than it spends. Yes, that is the one structure that the nonprofit must have to exist.

Instead, a nonprofit usually tries valiantly to satisfy an ever growing need. Of course, as they help people, more people find out and ask for help. Thus, expenses skyrocket exponentially. To survive, the nonprofit has to cut back services (expenses). That is very painful to these people who did this passionately to help others to begin with.

As you can imagine, by this time, the entrepreneur tries to work harder to make up for the limited resources (money). Obviously, that leaves even less time for administration of the “business”. Remember, a charity does not get some automatic check or anything. Instead, as they get more customers, they have to spend more. A business’ customers pay the business, but a charity’s customer gets paid.

Oh, now, the entrepreneur of the charity – called the executive director – has to do just what their clients (the needy) have to do. They have to go begging for money. That is professionally called fundraising. Believe me, no legitimate charity is formed on the premise that fundraising will be fun. While we have invented gala events to mask the indignity of fundraising, in its very nature it is begging for money – an innately degrading activity. Sure, there are crooked nonprofits, just like there are crooked businesses. However, we will not address the scum of the earth here in this article.

Oh, also, about this time, the government starts writing threatening letters saying the nonprofit is not in compliance with government rules and regulations.

Eighty-five percent of all nonprofits do not make it five years. This is not coincidental. After five years, the government deems that you are no longer an experiment, and it clamps down with its red tape. I think it is, however, coincidental that at five years, a charity has finally found enough marketing to be effective in its chosen area of help (albeit accidental, as most of these folks could not tell the difference between sales and marketing). As we know, word of mouth is still the most effective form of marketing.

If you are paying attention, you can guess that that founder’s passion is now turning to anxiety or even fear.

I am not a believer in handouts. They just lead to more handouts and laziness. I do believe in a leg up, though. Entrepreneurial spirit is a wonderful thing. We need to get back to a time where small businesses can truly flourish in America, too. Other countries have not advanced to the point where their selfish leaders rob the very essence that cannot fail. Running under the radar has become very difficult here in America. Isn’t it sad that that is one of my goals – to stay small enough. Business expansion left my goals list long ago.

Over the past sixteen years, ITMH has tried to give back to people in need. While that may seem fairly simple, it has instead grown quite complicated. Government is so interwoven into our business structure, since we are a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit charity. For those who do not know, an approved charity has immense regulation and rules.

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