Friday, May 18, 2007

Charity makes an IPO

More and more non-profits are beginning to adopt the language of business in their pitch to donors and their marketing to the community.

"Investing in our services provides a great return not just to you, but to the whole community," they promise. Although this return is seldom valuated in financial terms, donors seem to be responding to the idea that their gift is a social investment. The increase in demand for organizational accountability, performance measures and program outcomes are all an out-growth of this venture philanthropy model.

It's now gone even further. The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Homeward Bound of Marin has just sold their first "share" to Warren Buffett.

Philanthropy Today: Warren Buffett 'Invests' in Charity's 'IPO'

You've got to hand it to them... this is quite a slick strategy. Congratulations to Homeward Bound of Marin for their innovative marketing, and for securing Mr. Buffett's support!

I just wonder: does all this language take us away from the fact that donations are, in fact, NOT investments... but gifts of love? of compassions? of charity, given without expectation of return?

I blogged about this earlier post about social enterprise:
http://theraiser.blogspot.com/2007/05/digging-into-social-enterprise-mud.html

What are your thoughts?