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Letter to the editor – Move beyond revenue focus

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To the editor:

Great article [ “More not always better,” Philanthropy Journal, 8/5/03]. I really enjoyed reading it.

Part of the challenge is that a lot of boards are comprised of successful business executives who want to impose their business growth goals on the non-governmental organization with which they’re working.

To some extent that is a good thing because it helps operationalize programs that need help, but a singular focus on revenue creates problems downstream as the mission can be made to take a backseat.

The private sector is already somewhat afflicted by this problem vis-a-vis quarterly earnings reporting and allowing analysts to make or break investor and employee equity primarily on that basis.

It hardly seems scalable for the nonprofit sector to go down this spiral of non-substantive expectation setting.

This is not to say that non-governmental organizations shouldn’t stretch themselves but they should really try to focus on building capacity and executing sustainable programs versus an annual “Show me da money!” lovefest that only impacts the top line.

Gagan Kanwar, senior systems engineer, Convio Inc., Washington, D.C.

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