This book was a real favourite of the book club. It summed up all of our frustrations.

One of the areas we constantly struggle with is the dreaded “administrative cost” question.  How the media does a disservice to the non-profit sector! We evaluate companies based on many different criteria but apparently the non-profit sector has only one: percentage spent on administrative costs. If only life were that easy!

While you may assume that too much money spent on “administrative costs” is a bad thing, it may not be. Higher quality programs reach more people and have more positive impacts that lower quality ones. We need to measure charities and non-profits based on what they do, not how they categorize costs.

Another theme in the book was about paying people to do a job versus volunteers.  Now, we all volunteer!  Lots of volunteers are worth their weight in gold.  Others, not so much…  Don’t we all wonder how much we could accomplish if we were getting paid to do the things we volunteer for?  The reality is, volunteering is a great aspect of our society but volunteers can rarely accomplish what paid employees can accomplish. Also, employees need to make a decent wage.  Just because you are working for a non-profit does not mean that you should therefore starve, never go on vacation, work extra hours and shorten you life “because you are doing what you love”. People need to live, to recharge, to experience life. It’s ok for people working at non-profits to make a decent wage. Period.

Everyone really needs to read this book. If more people read this book, maybe we would appreciate all of the work that is being done by charities rather than criticising them. Maybe we would also realize that charities and non-profits are being run by fallible humans.  Everyone should be allowed to take risks, experiment, and sometimes loose a bit of money. Nothing is perfect. But, if we are always so scared to change the status quo, then we will never get out of the status quo.

Uncharitable: how restraints on nonprofits undermine their potentialDan Pallotta; University Press of New England 2008WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder