Non-Profit Organizations and the Cause Business Model

In a ‘for profit’ business we determine the success of the business model by its profitability. Success of a non-profit organisation (NPO) is measured differently. The business model of a charity or a medical institute or a human rights watch dog is a success if it collects enough donor money to cover operating costs. Cause business is a better description than NPO, given the style of management required. If you want to keep donors giving, you need to be a drama queen. This is correct. Appeals to philanthropy work better when you make out that the situation is more dire than it really is. The worse the better. “Oy vey! Send money!”  

No doubt of it, climate change is the current biggest cause in the ‘Oy vey! industry.’ By the number of people who make a career out of climate change, by the amount of donor funds raised and spent, and in terms of media and government interest and global attention, no cause comes near climate change. A world-shattering PhD in Economics would assemble the total value, the component parts, the sources and application of funds, the numbers employed, the cost versus the benefit. The more drama the bigger the numbers.  “Oy vey! Life as we know it will end in twelve years if we don’t act. Pledge funds! Allocate budgets! Devise green deals!” Drama queen acts.       

Far behind in impact and size, though a global business nonetheless, is the Palestinian cause.  I’ve published articles that reduce the intractability of the Palestinian cause to an economic problem. Too much money, too many people, too many goliaths (none more than UN commissions on helping Palestinian refugees) and too much fame and fortune depend on the longest running conflict on earth.

“Oy vey! Human rights are being violated in the Occupied Territories. Your donation will help us expose and prosecute Israel.”  “Oy vey! Gaza is cut off. Your money will help feed the trapped Palestinians.”

Drama and hyperbole work. My book, Hadrian’s Echo, ends with a drama queen revealing how well it does. Her cause, if it matters, is the human rights outfit, B’Tselem. The drama queen admits that the situation is not as bad as she would like it to be – as her donors would like it to be if they are to donate more taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

“Heaven help us,” cries the drama queen, “if our moral standard is reduced to not committing crimes against humanity. From my country (Israel) I demand a lot more.”  

Do you understand her? The situation is not so bad – no crimes. In fact the situation in the Occupied Territories is better than in every trouble spot in the Middle East, and beyond. But only utopia will satisfy her.  And donors – often the Israel-hostile EU – can help the cause business to bring utopia on.      

In the book, I describe a problem caused by such drama queening: anti-Semitism. When built into the business model, the demand for Israel to be angelic leaves collateral damage.

Cause managers “want the Jewish state to be a beacon in a dark world, a light unto the nations. So they set an Olympian bar for Israel to clear, even for the way it treats (existential) enemies. And taking them up on their demand, haters wait and watch. How high can Israel jump? At a shiver of the high bar, the court of public opinion is transported into a frenzy of scorn and condemnation. And instead of a light unto the nations they turn Israel into the world’s polecat.

The cause businesses don’t care. So long as electronic fund transfers keep ticking, let others deal with Israel-hate. Meanwhile they innovate creatively, often brilliantly. One way or another daily drama must be produced to keep donations coming. If Israel won’t co-operate by violating Palestinians rights every day, B’Tselem or Breaking the Silence and scores of other watchdogs must find violations by new tactics, however dishonest. The former gives away cameras to Palestinians to allow them to produce their own victim drama. Clever is as clever does!     

 Of course it’s not all about money. If money is not the only motive in a commercial business why should it be the prime mover and shaker in a cause business? Ultimate success, the bottom line, depends on passion-driven managers. Whether the cause is climate change or Palestinian rights and Israeli wrongs, the people are passionately in love with feeling good about their work. Facts not only don’t matter to them, facts make them go off the boil. Cause professionals talk in soaring sound bites.  

Take a certain young man who lately started a cause named SISO – Save Israel, Stop the Occupation.” Introducing the guest speaker he makes a statement fit for a Greek god’s eulogy. ‘Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank was like being in perpetual purgatory and a moment lost in time.”

Noble and lovely sentiments for sure. And straight from the heart. But heartfelt words are likely to be airy fairy and devoid of anything as solid as truth. The brain of a feel-good cause worker wouldn’t know a critical thought if electrocuted by one. It would splutter and die if you brought the person down to earth with a challenge or two. Occupation? Your feeling or international law? One lost moment in time? The Oslo Accords! What was lost from that moment in time, other than thousands of snuffed out Jewish lives? Ah – you mean Palestinian statehood. You think the Oslo Accords promised statehood?  

Out of a drama queen you’ll never get engagement. Cause professionals and left-wingers are synonymous, especially when they work with human rights. In fact, they’re left-wing first and cause professional second. So, the blunt club will be the weapon of choice, the fallback smear. For questioning their work you’re a white male supremacist. A Zionist. A white nationalist. What is a smear but a loose curse devoid of definition? For example, why the color bar – can’t there be black male supremacists? Why the gender bar – can’t there be female supremacists, or gay ones? And how is white nationalist different from white supremacist? And are they different from Zionist – for what is a Zionist but a nationalist? Anyhow, what makes nationalism bad and internationalism good? 

‘All you need is love, love is all you need’ ‘Imagine no countries, and no religion too.’

I’m from the Beatles generation. I can’t get enough of their music. Such splendid ideas of utopia go into the lyrics. But go to a Beatle work to get knowledge and wisdom?

Photo credit: runran

Steve Apfel wrote this article from a private hospital, his home from home on and off for 23 months, where he fights a cruel enemy. He dedicates the article to nurses and to everyone in the wards and the whole establishment who’ve made themselves Steve’s second family. Also to Discovery Health for providing treatment compared to which liquid gold is cheap.      

In a ‘for profit’ business we determine the success of the business model by its profitability. Success of a non-profit organisation (NPO) is measured differently. The business model of a charity or a medical institute or a human rights watch dog is a success if it collects enough donor money to cover operating costs. Cause business is a better description than NPO, given the style of management required. If you want to keep donors giving, you need to be a drama queen. This is correct. Appeals to philanthropy work better when you make out that the situation is more dire than it really is. The worse the better. “Oy vey! Send money!”  

No doubt of it, climate change is the current biggest cause in the ‘Oy vey! industry.’ By the number of people who make a career out of climate change, by the amount of donor funds raised and spent, and in terms of media and government interest and global attention, no cause comes near climate change. A world-shattering PhD in Economics would assemble the total value, the component parts, the sources and application of funds, the numbers employed, the cost versus the benefit. The more drama the bigger the numbers.  “Oy vey! Life as we know it will end in twelve years if we don’t act. Pledge funds! Allocate budgets! Devise green deals!” Drama queen acts.       

Far behind in impact and size, though a global business nonetheless, is the Palestinian cause.  I’ve published articles that reduce the intractability of the Palestinian cause to an economic problem. Too much money, too many people, too many goliaths (none more than UN commissions on helping Palestinian refugees) and too much fame and fortune depend on the longest running conflict on earth.

“Oy vey! Human rights are being violated in the Occupied Territories. Your donation will help us expose and prosecute Israel.”  “Oy vey! Gaza is cut off. Your money will help feed the trapped Palestinians.”

Drama and hyperbole work. My book, Hadrian’s Echo, ends with a drama queen revealing how well it does. Her cause, if it matters, is the human rights outfit, B’Tselem. The drama queen admits that the situation is not as bad as she would like it to be – as her donors would like it to be if they are to donate more taxpayers’ hard-earned money.

“Heaven help us,” cries the drama queen, “if our moral standard is reduced to not committing crimes against humanity. From my country (Israel) I demand a lot more.”  

Do you understand her? The situation is not so bad – no crimes. In fact the situation in the Occupied Territories is better than in every trouble spot in the Middle East, and beyond. But only utopia will satisfy her.  And donors – often the Israel-hostile EU – can help the cause business to bring utopia on.      

In the book, I describe a problem caused by such drama queening: anti-Semitism. When built into the business model, the demand for Israel to be angelic leaves collateral damage.

Cause managers “want the Jewish state to be a beacon in a dark world, a light unto the nations. So they set an Olympian bar for Israel to clear, even for the way it treats (existential) enemies. And taking them up on their demand, haters wait and watch. How high can Israel jump? At a shiver of the high bar, the court of public opinion is transported into a frenzy of scorn and condemnation. And instead of a light unto the nations they turn Israel into the world’s polecat.

The cause businesses don’t care. So long as electronic fund transfers keep ticking, let others deal with Israel-hate. Meanwhile they innovate creatively, often brilliantly. One way or another daily drama must be produced to keep donations coming. If Israel won’t co-operate by violating Palestinians rights every day, B’Tselem or Breaking the Silence and scores of other watchdogs must find violations by new tactics, however dishonest. The former gives away cameras to Palestinians to allow them to produce their own victim drama. Clever is as clever does!     

 Of course it’s not all about money. If money is not the only motive in a commercial business why should it be the prime mover and shaker in a cause business? Ultimate success, the bottom line, depends on passion-driven managers. Whether the cause is climate change or Palestinian rights and Israeli wrongs, the people are passionately in love with feeling good about their work. Facts not only don’t matter to them, facts make them go off the boil. Cause professionals talk in soaring sound bites.  

Take a certain young man who lately started a cause named SISO – Save Israel, Stop the Occupation.” Introducing the guest speaker he makes a statement fit for a Greek god’s eulogy. ‘Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank was like being in perpetual purgatory and a moment lost in time.”

Noble and lovely sentiments for sure. And straight from the heart. But heartfelt words are likely to be airy fairy and devoid of anything as solid as truth. The brain of a feel-good cause worker wouldn’t know a critical thought if electrocuted by one. It would splutter and die if you brought the person down to earth with a challenge or two. Occupation? Your feeling or international law? One lost moment in time? The Oslo Accords! What was lost from that moment in time, other than thousands of snuffed out Jewish lives? Ah – you mean Palestinian statehood. You think the Oslo Accords promised statehood?  

Out of a drama queen you’ll never get engagement. Cause professionals and left-wingers are synonymous, especially when they work with human rights. In fact, they’re left-wing first and cause professional second. So, the blunt club will be the weapon of choice, the fallback smear. For questioning their work you’re a white male supremacist. A Zionist. A white nationalist. What is a smear but a loose curse devoid of definition? For example, why the color bar – can’t there be black male supremacists? Why the gender bar – can’t there be female supremacists, or gay ones? And how is white nationalist different from white supremacist? And are they different from Zionist – for what is a Zionist but a nationalist? Anyhow, what makes nationalism bad and internationalism good? 

‘All you need is love, love is all you need’ ‘Imagine no countries, and no religion too.’

I’m from the Beatles generation. I can’t get enough of their music. Such splendid ideas of utopia go into the lyrics. But go to a Beatle work to get knowledge and wisdom?

Photo credit: runran

Steve Apfel wrote this article from a private hospital, his home from home on and off for 23 months, where he fights a cruel enemy. He dedicates the article to nurses and to everyone in the wards and the whole establishment who’ve made themselves Steve’s second family. Also to Discovery Health for providing treatment compared to which liquid gold is cheap.