Bootstrapping the non-profit organisation Rule 7 (part 1)

This is the seventh 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)

This is a counter-intuitive but powerful lens for thinking about non-profit work. For now, let’s understand what you ‘charge’ as being how much your program costs.

All other things being equal, being low cost – getting things done for as little as possible – is a virtue.

All other things being equal, using resources well (efficiency) is a Good Thing.

But the thing is, all other things aren’t equal. It doesn’t matter if you run a tight ship (are efficient), serve a huge number of people for little money (are low-cost) if you don’t make an impact – the biggest impact that you can make.

This is definitively not to say that you need to ‘go big or go home’ – scale is only one way to measure impact, and as we saw in Rule 6, it isn’t a reward in itself.

It is to say that you should be aiming to make the biggest impact you can for the people you seek to serve, and according to what’s important to you.

Effective is different from efficient, and definitely not the same as cheap. Doing the wrong thing efficiently and at low cost is still the wrong thing.

If charging a lot, if being expensive, helps you to make a bigger impact, find a way to make it work, and be expensive.

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