On Thursday, I attended a Net Impact NYC dinner with Tyler Ahn from Ashoka’s Changemakers. It was kind of funny since I’ve only “met” Tyler over the phone (full disclosure: I also work at Changemakers) and I wasn’t sure who she was when I first arrived. But the conversation was great and the food was delicious (thanks, Flatbush Farm) and I can’t wait to attend another Net Impact dinner in the future.
One of the overarching topics for the evening was the future of philanthropy. I think there was a consensus that it’s an exciting time in the field and it will be interesting to see how some of the newer approaches evolve. For example, Changemakers’ competition model has grown increasingly popular with corporations like Pepsi jumping on the bandwagon. There was also a discussion of the business and tax challenges for non-profits who seek greater financial security with borderline for-profit activities. Tyler was a firm believer in taking ownership of your revenue stream, particularly in light of the financial crisis and the inability of grant-making institutions, donors, and the government to support non-profits. And, of course, it also provides greater autonomy for organizations.
This last part really resonated with me since I’ve spent a lot of time chatting with non-profits recently. Quite frankly, it’s depressing to hear organizations talk about being so dependent on the financial whims of others. Plus, as Tyler said, “Who needs to worry about non-profit status and paying taxes when you’re actually making money?”
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