You hear it all the time. Nonprofit arts organizations would run better if they "thought more like a business."
What people forget is that there are a range of businesses that you can "think like."
You can think like a business that is innovative and values the people they work with.
Or you can think like a business that is trying to squeeze every dollar, sees people as a commodity, etc.
Let me give you an example of how the type of business you "think like" makes a huge difference.
Rosetta links us to this article about how many nonprofit workers, particularly young ones, make less then 30,000 a year.
If you asked many of those nonprofits why they pay their workers so little, they would tell you that 30,000 is the market rate for those employees . . . so that's why they pay it.
And sure, paying people at "market rate" is something businesses do.
The problem is, it's something that average, mediocre, businesses do . . . particularly when that market rate is so low.
Now what would an exceptional business do?
They would look at that low market rate paid to workers and see an opportunity. They would scramble to try and raise the money needed to pay people more.
They would know that if they can afford to pay people $42,000 in a market that is averaging $30,000 . . . that gives them a tremendous strategic advantage.
They can hire better people. They can retain those people longer. They can improve workplace morale.
That's a lot of benefits for an extra $250 a week.
That's what an exceptional business does. Doesn't matter if it's nonprofit, for profit, artistic or non-artistic.
They lead the market, they don't follow it.
In the arts world, we constantly talk about the low wages paid to actors, performers, staff, etc.
It's a huge problem.
And if you handled it properly, it could be your huge opportunity.
Seriously, have you thought about the advantage you could have if you paid your performers 30% more then the next guy?
Have you really considered the long term benefits you could have if you gave your employees a better work environment then the next guy?
Now you are probably thinking "Adam, we would love to do that, but we can't afford it."
That's a sound business decision.
But again, what type of business are you thinking like?
An exceptional business would understand that the short term challenges associated with bringing in the money to pay people more are far outweighed by the benefits that come from treating people well in an industry where they are typically treated so poorly.
An average, mediocre business would dismiss the idea out of hand because they don't know how to afford it.
Which one are you going to be?