Part of the mission of Impact100 Sonoma is to empower our members to be responsible stewards and donors, and thankfully we have among our membership women like Diana Sanson to help us understand exactly how to do that! On Thursday May 8, Diana presented on the topic “Understanding Nonprofits to Create Better Philanthropy” to a room of about 50 Impact100 members and their guests at the Sonoma Springs Community Hall. The lively conversation started with wine, snacks and mingling, but soon settled into a serious discussion of the important differences between nonprofit organizations and for-profit businesses, and how understanding those differences can help us be better philanthropists.
Among the topics that Diana covered were: the ways that nonprofit income is often restricted by donor intent and grant specifications, and the difficulties those restrictions can create in accounting; the sources of income that nonprofits most frequently pursue, including grants, individual donors, earned income and event proceeds; and different models of grantmaking, including core mission, capacity-building and infrastructure grants. Diana also highlighted the ways that the concept of “overhead” and its negative connotations can unintentionally limit the growth potential of a nonprofit.
The presentation culminated with a role-playing exercise in which pairs of attendees took on the roles of “Executive Director” and “Major Donor” of Kids Inc., a fictional nonprofit. The exercise dramatized the ways in which nonprofits must delicately balance the generosity of donors and the strings that are often attached to large gifts. Diana wrapped up the presentation with this clip of Dan Pallotta, a nationally-recognized expert on the subject of philanthropy who recently spoke at the Sonoma Speaker Series.
The engagement, questions and discussion that the presentation prompted demonstrated the desire for events like this, and fortunately we have several more planned for 2019 on occasion of our 10th Anniversary--stay tuned!