For some years, we have seen a strong public backlash against the true costs of realizing a nonprofit’s mission, a.k.a. overhead. That mission requires financial resources and an operations backbone, both of which have costs associated to them. I will summarize how we got here, the role of the charity watchdogs and the media, how nonprofits are responding to this scrutiny through expense allocations on IRS 990 forms, and a path forward that will require a focus on donor education, advocacy, and boldness to talk about the true costs of service delivery including the costs of fundraising.
Alicia Schatteman is a nonprofit scholar, practitioner, and educator. She is currently the Acting Director of the Center for Nonprofit and NGO Studies at Northern Illinois University. Previous to completing her doctoral degree at Rutgers University, Alicia worked for about 10 years in the nonprofit and government sectors including four years as an executive director. Her research, teaching and consulting are focused on the areas of nonprofit strategic planning, financial management, and performance management. She and her family live in Sugar Grove, Illinois where she is currently president of the Sugar Grove Public Library Foundation.
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