Half a Loaf of Bread

Overhead as Value Added

Two of our core programming values are “Accountability” and “Maximum Impact.” These speak to the weight we feel about ensuring your dollar is wisely stewarded and that our work is proven through data to have the most impact possible. 

I get to defend every dollar that gets spent, and I am proud to say that I can with ease. 

So when it comes to overhead questions, I really welcome them. 

There have been few pieces of content that have inspired me more than Dan Pallotta’s TED Talk, The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong. I implore you to take 18 minutes and watch it.

I can completely empathize with donors who want to see their dollars have maximum impact in helping transform lives through clean water in Uganda. This is why we exist! No one wants to see their hard-earned money be wasted on frivolous costs. Here is how we project our spending to be this year:

  • 70% on Programming
  • 10% on Administration
  • 20% on Fundraising

Another way to look at this is, for every dollar given: 70 cents goes to Uganda, 10 cents goes to make sure it’s accounted for correctly and managed well, and 20 cents goes to investing in future growth – to build on our 50-year history!

What I want you to consider as you read this though are two things:

  1. What are frivolous expenditures? 
  2. Would a person in need rather have 90% of a slice of bread or 50% of a loaf?

I am getting at this: we could keep our fundraising low and only raise a slice of bread or increase it and raise a whole loaf’s worth for clean water in Uganda

Which is better stewardship?

Could we reframe the narrative away from seeing it as “overhead” and instead look at it as Value Added Investments? 

Here are a few examples: The money we spend on fundraising, sure it’s expensive, but if we spend $10,000 and it generates $40,000 for clean water, is that not a value add? How about administration? If we spend money to ensure our database is up to date, our financials are tracked and managed and transparent, and this means our audit is clear and our books are open – is this not a value-added investment? Project Management? Should we make sure projects happen on time, on budget, and with maximum impact?

One of the things I’m most proud of is that the investments we’ve made into fundraising have allowed us to grow over 3 times our size in 5 years!

I hope this gave some clarity to our ratios. I’m always happy to talk about it and to hear what you think is a fair and good percentage to spend. Thanks so much for the support and trust you’ve given us – it’s not something I take lightly. 


Share This Post