Let’s face it, the title just reduced the readership of this blog to a handful of Star Trek groupies and my mom (and she will only read it out of loyalty to me). Nevertheless, give me a minute to explain why that question is important to nonprofits like Love146.
In Star Trek, Kirk and Spock are presented with diametrically opposed leadership styles. Kirk is an audacious, shoot-from-the-hip cavalier who will bend rules and push traditional limits to get the job done. Spock, on the other hand, is portrayed as reflective, calculating, and possessing a penchant for quoting Starfleet regulations which are meant to create checks and balances on the impulsiveness of trailblazers like Kirk. You can imagine the tensions that arise between these types—just watch the first fifteen minutes of the last Star Trek movie and you’ll see.
That tension is important for the galaxy, and Kirk and Spock’s push and pull on each other moves the work of Starfleet from good to great.
Here’s how it plays out in the nonprofit world.
You have charities, like Love146, who, no matter how reflective we are, represent the bold risk-takers in the world of addressing societal injustices. Donors look to us to be on the front lines of the issue of human trafficking, to develop the innovative responses and morph those ideas to match circumstances that arise in the moment.
While we are thrilled that donors encourage us in our efforts, let’s be honest: if a charity wanted to create the image of audacious action and effectiveness, couldn’t it fool donors, or become reckless in its efforts?
Who makes sure that charity groups are playing by the rules that make up best practices? Well, that’s where the charity watchdog groups come in—the Mr. Spock’s of the nonprofit world.
There are a lot of charity watchdog groups out there, watching a lot of different activities, but there are two or three that are particularly effective at what they do—groups like Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise-Giving Alliance. They invite charities into an accountability relationship and assess them on things like financial transparency, ratios around programmatic spending, and governance issues.
That’s a smart thing to do—because no matter how well-meaning a nonprofit may be amidst its exciting efforts, it’s sometimes good to have a Mr. Spock behind you reminding you of “regulations” that protect those who give to you and those you serve.
In my role as Executive Director at Love146, I spend bunches and bunches of hours answering those group’s questionnaires, scanning and emailing them documents, and spending time on the phone with their well-versed technocrats. Is that time well spent? You better believe it is—particularly for you, the donor.
So here’s a shout-out and a hearty “live long and prosper” to all the Mr. Spocks out there who make us Captain Kirks even better at what we do.
That said, you may be wondering: “How well is Love146 doing in the eyes of these charity watchdogs?” Check it out for yourself…
Love146 is one of only a few hundred organizations that has met all 20 standards of charity accountability set by the Better Business Bureau.