How do you talk about who’s who in your organisation, and what does it say about your values?
One Acre Fund is an organisation that spends about US$100 million per year on their program, with 8,300 staff serving 760,000 families (or more than 4 million people) in more than six countries.
They are doing excellent work, and my impression is that they have excellent leadership, and top-level leaders worth making a noise about.
But look at their leadership page. There’s no org chart with the big fish at the top, there are no job titles until you hover-over – just a set of faces that represent the organisation ordered alphabetically by first name.
Who’s who isn’t immediately clear – but we learn a lot about ‘who’ One Acre Fund is, and what’s important to them.
This is the seventh-and-a-quarter post in a series applying Seth Godin’s rules of bootstrapping (see also here) to building a non-profit organisation.
Rule 7: Charge a lot (but be worth more than you charge)
A last argument for applying this rule in non-profit context is that if your clients pay, your resources go further, and you can serve a lot more people. We covered this principle in Rule 3 (see ‘Eager to pay and scaling the non-profit), but it’s worth repeating here.
I’ve just been listening to an interview with One Acre Fund‘s Andrew Youn on Rob Reid’s After On podcast where Andrew spoke about the importance of a revenue model in their work, where the farmers they serve receive credit, but ultimately pay for the services they receive:
Rob Reid: Some people might say that these folks are extremely poor, why don’t you deliver these services for free? Part of it is that there’s only so much money in your organisation, and that 98.5% payback means that you’ve got a lot more dollars put to work. What percentage of One Acre Fund’s annual budget comes back to it through repayments?
Andrew Youn: Most of One Acre Fund is core program delivering all these services… Within that core program, about 70% of our budget is covered by farmer payments, and 30% from donors.
RR: You’re literally serving three times as more as many people as you could if you were a purely charitable organisation.
AY: It makes us so much more cost effective… we can serve three, four times as many people by charging for our services. I think it also makes us a little more beholden, as an organisation, to the customer that we serve. So we use, for example, repayment as a customer service quality metric. [see Rule 1 for more on this idea]After On Podcast, Episode 35
So here’s the final reformulation of Rule 7:
Rule 7 of bootstrapping the non-profit organisation: Find the right price (and be worth more than you charge)