Why are nonprofits so complicated?

Why are nonprofits so complicated?

The other day I was talking to a friend who also works in the nonprofit sector. We were discussing the complexity that seems to characterise so much of nonprofit life. As many corporate newcomers find when they first arrive in the sector, nonprofits can be incredibly convoluted. Gone is the relative simplicity of the profit motive: enter mission, values, multiple stakeholders and boards; then add complicated funding arrangements, legal and tax requirements, financial struggle (for many) and so on. It’s hard work and I’ve seen many corporate folk flee the scene in despair.

Yes, the cost of ‘doing good’ can be high. But the question remains: why are nonprofits so complicated – how did they get that way? 

As we talked the answer arrived: nonprofits are complicated because they are forever trying to compensate for inadequacies in human behaviour.

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