Money Talks

Money is a regular topic of conversation in the nonprofit world. We talk about how to raise money. We also talk about sustainability – in the nonprofit world, this generally means revenue stability.  We definitely talk about how we spend our money: overhead vs. programming.

It’s less common, however, to talk about where we spend our money. When justice is our mission, are we certain we’re making our spending speak?

In recent weeks, Reach has made some intentional decisions with our money, though these decisions have been relatively easy. During our summer program, we gave away $2,500 as part of an intentional effort to build research and presentation skills. When our tutors made their final presentations, the event was catered by Fresh Start Catering, a business run by DC Central Kitchen. When purchasing books for our classrooms, we focus on making purchases from businesses like Politics & Prose and Zoobean.

But, sometimes these decisions get hard. There’s an intense desire to be careful with money, but at what cost?

As you likely know, we are currently preparing to publish four original children’s books. In this process, we’re confronted with an interesting challenge. Publishing through Amazon is significantly cheaper than any other publishing option. But, it’s hard to argue that Amazon’s continued growth hurts independent bookstores and, it’s been said, the larger literary community. So, how do we let our money speak?

These books will generate revenue. We would save $2 per book by using Amazon. At the same time, we would limit partnership opportunities (most independent bookstores will not carry our books if printed through Amazon). While we most certainly would not pay $10 more per book, we’re struggling to decide whether $2/book is a reasonable price to pay to support independent publishers and partner with the local literary community.

Is it worth it? We’d love to hear your thoughts. At what point does expense override mission?

Thanks, as always, for reading.
Mark

Posted in Ed Reform Notes, Funding, Updates |
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