Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A charity that's run like a business

This time of year, we all look for opportunities to give to non-profits. I ran across this story today on the CNN web site of a well-managed non-profit that applies business principles to its operations.

It's run by an ex-Silicon Valley executive, Tom Hogan, who wanted to bring basic services to the Baja region of Mexico. This quote caught my attention: "Every one of our programs runs off spreadsheets with specific dollar amounts. We can tell our donors 'for $55,000, you can give potable water to these three tribes,' or 'for $6,000, you can sponsor two health fairs.' Donors, especially the high-end folks like venture capitalists, love it. It's very specific and precise."

When you're making your gifts to charity, especially if you are giving large amounts, make sure that the charities have responsible plans in place. Look at the 990s for the non-profit. Many non-profits post those forms, which are required by the IRS, on their web sites. Ask about their plans for the future. Think of it as an investment. Read on for more of Hogan's plans and thoughts on non-profit management.

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