“God love you, Darren Walker.”

We all missed a terrific opportunity. I was talking with an entrepreneur last week who developed the neatest product I have ever heard about. And I was able to “handle” it, and it is simply awesome. I can’t tell you what it is, as the patent is still pending, but it’s going to blow your mind.

That is, if you ever get a chance to see it.

The founder of this magnificent product blew through his “angel funding” to develop the product. He was so busy creating it that he lost sight of the fact that he would have to develop a website for it, and market it, and figure out how to produce it in mass quantities.

And now the product is sitting in the closet of his studio apartment. He is desperate to revive the product and share it with the world, but can’t get any other investors to bite, despite his very cool product. (Did I mention that it is going to blow your mind??)

In a sad way, this reminded me a bit of how nonprofits operate. Nonprofits are so focused on providing their services to those most in need, that nearly everything else gets overlooked – including marketing. It’s why I loved Dan Pallotta’s latest article, “What Foundations Are Missing about Capacity Building.” And my new hero is Darren Walker of the Ford Foundation, who has explicitly recognized that proposals do not reflect the actual costs of the projects being funded. Overhead is generally –if not always – more than 10%. And in the words of Dan Pallotta, “God love you, Darren Walker.” Thank you for being brave enough to put it out there, for saying what everyone already knew but nobody wanted to recognize. It is my hope that other foundations will acknowledge this, too, and follow suit.

If my entrepreneurial friend had marketed his product, all of our lives would be different. If nonprofits had all the resources they needed to address our most pressing social issues, all of our communities would be different, and better off for it.

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