AFP, Overhead Fundraising

Join me at the San Diego AFP Luncheon on 12/5!


AFP San Diego Chapter Luncheon Workshop – December 2014

Title: Keep the Lights On: The Overhead Myth

Date: December 5, 2014 at 11:30am -1:30pm

Location: Mission Valley Double Tree Hotel, 1515 Hotel Circle South, San Diego, CA


Moderator: Renee Herrell



Judy McDonald, Parker Foundation

Peter Ellsworth, Legler Benbough Foundation

Senator Dede Alpert (Retired) Girard Foundation


Session Description

Fundraising for overhead has always been a challenge for nonprofit organizations. Funders often focus their giving on programs. The “overhead myth” is centered on the idea that nonprofits are valued by how little they spend on overhead. Overhead includes salaries for non-program management, office space, office technology, and office supplies – the non-sexy budget line items of a nonprofit organization. Often nonprofits get caught in the “Nonprofit Starvation Cycle”, a vicious cycle that starts when funders have unrealistic expectations of how much nonprofits should spend on overhead and value nonprofits who spend little on overhead. To meet these unrealistic expectations, nonprofits begin to skimp on overhead and misrepresent their costs to make their overhead look smaller to receive funding – thus perpetuating funders’ unrealistic expectations. Three local funders will speak about why they fund overhead through the foundations they represent and how to positively shift the culture and mindset around nonprofit overhead.


This panel discussion is based on the article I wrote for Huffington Post: The New Four-Letter Word in the Nonprofit Sector

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