This summer we had an encounter with a foundation representative who, after reviewing our grant application, called us to seek clarification. “Am I correct,” she asked, “that no one in your organization [CBC] receives a salary?”
For years we’ve proudly noted in these grant submissions that nearly 90% of the funds we raise goes directly to funding our actual music-based projects (a percentage well above the norm for non-profits in general). Surely, we thought, such a figure would be noteworthy to potential funders. Yet what caught this caller’s attention was the absence in our proposed budget of salary lines for us (Linda, Bill & Dan).
We went on to explain to the caller that many of the professionals who assist CreativeBridge Coalition do so at a reduced rate, offer “in kind” service (i.e., bill for part of the service and donate the rest), provide “pro bono” service (i.e., work for free), or simply volunteer their service. We’d come to believe that this level of generosity was routine in the non-profit world. Turns out it’s not!
Apparently, CBC not only has good karma but some remarkably generous professional friends. Like all non-profits, CBC relies on grants from foundations, small businesses, and successful entrepreneurs along with donations from individuals and families to pay the bills. Less apparent, but equally important, however, is the generosity of our professional support group – fundraising volunteers, Advisory Board members, grant writers, researchers, lawyers, accountants and media designers who provide services to us at free or reduced rates. Ultimately, it takes a lot more than hard cash to be a successful non-profit.
So yes – we work for free. But many others who contribute their time, energy and expertise to make our work possible surround us. That’s the fact that seems most impressive.