Nonprofit Overhead Costs Resource Center

Click to download a free discussion guide! Video and guide courtesy of Donors Forum.
There is an urgent need for the nonprofit sector to break out of the "nonprofit starvation cycle," a vicious cycle where donors and nonprofits alike fixate on overhead rather than on the actual cost of creating good outcomes. We are seeing exciting signs of change, including [this public letter to American donors] from charity watchdog organizations, but there is still work to be done. The resources below are intended to help nonprofit leaders continue the momentum.

Bridgespan Resources

What Do Good Outcomes Cost?

To move beyond “how much do you spend on overhead?” to “what do good outcomes cost?” funders must change the way they think and act, says Bridgespan’s Ann Goggins Gregory. In this blog post on GuideStar’s OverheadMyth.com, she suggests ways nonprofits can help speed the change.

Stop Starving Scale: Unlocking the Potential of Global NGOs

Generous funders have fueled the spectacular growth of global NGOs in recent years. But the money comes with strings that thwart these organizations’ ability to create the platforms for scale needed to solve global problems.

The Nonprofit Starvation Cycle

A vicious cycle is leaving many nonprofits so hungry for decent infrastructure that they can barely function as organizations—let alone serve their beneficiaries. To break the nonprofit starvation cycle, funders must take the lead and recalibrate their expectations about what it costs to run a nonprofit.

Nonprofit Cost Analysis: Introduction

Although nonprofits generally have a good understanding of their revenues, knowledge about costs can sometimes be less robust. This is particularly the case when it comes to the true, all-in costs of providing services, running programs and otherwise operating the organization.

External Resources

For a more robust set of resources, visit Donors Forum's Real Talk about Real Costs Microsite.

Ending the Nonprofit Starvation Cycle, a post by Bridgespan alum Daniel Stid on the Hewlett Foundation's Work in Progress blog, discusses overhead costs from a funder's perspective and suggests that to break the cycle grantees need to identify their true costs so funders can fund the full cost of the work they're asking their grantees to undertake.

StrongNonprofits.org, from Fiscal Management Associates and The Wallace Foundation, features free tools, guides and more to help nonprofits build their financial muscle. This includes Fiscal Fitness for Nonprofits, which illustrates how one nonprofit strengthened its financial acumen.