Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Nonprofit Mentality in Politics

There will be more on creating and investing social capital tomorrow. Today, I want briefly to return to a previous topic: The Nonprofit Mentality.

Sunday's Observer (UK) ran a piece by former Clinton aid Dick Morris. Morris describes Senator Clinton in terms similar to those Jere Boschee uses to describe
the nonprofit mentality:

So what kind of President would Hillary be? How would Condi handle the job? Let's start with policy. Hillary Clinton would be the most liberal President since Lyndon Johnson. Bill Clinton is a moderate by choice and, sometimes, a liberal by necessity. But his wife is the exact opposite. Hillary believes that government delivers services well and that the quest for private profit is the root of all selfishness and vice in American life.
The Observer Review An extract from Condi vs Hillary by Dick Morris
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8 Comments:

Blogger et alia said...

Let me see if I have this right:

NTC is Nourish the Children, an ‘initiative’ of Nu Skin enterprises, a multilevel marketing company.

The primary product donated by Nourish the Children is VitaMeal, a product of Pharmanex, a Nu Skin company.

VitaMeal only offers 590 calories per adult serving.

An ambassador is a distributor who has donated 4 bags of VitaMeal and generated donations of at least 12 bags of VitaMeal for two months running. (Q: do the 12 bags donated go into the commissions made by the distributor?)

Is what you're doing here is encouraging people to become social entrepreneurs by becoming Nu Skin/Pharmanex distributors?

8:17 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

et alia writes:

"The primary product donated by Nourish the Children is VitaMeal, a product of Pharmanex, a Nu Skin company.

VitaMeal only offers 590 calories per adult serving."

It is interesting that you would choose to evaluate a child's portion in terms of an adult. The VitaMeal is formulated for malnourished children. Is this a rhetorical florish on your part et alia to distract readers from other important issues?

et alia comments:

"Let me see if I have this right:

NTC is Nourish the Children, an ‘initiative’ of Nu Skin enterprises, a multilevel marketing company."

Let's see if I've got this right et alia: you are attempting to appeal to latent prejudices. You might have referred to NSE as a NYSE listed company, or as a company, but referring to NSE as a direct sales company, though irrelevant to this discussion, does have a certain emotive appeal.

I note that you elected not to mention that the NTC Alliance includes World Vision, Feed the Children, The UN, The Malawi project, and other respected organisations? An innocent omission on your part, or demagogy? I suppose only you know the answer to that.

et alia asks:

"Is what you're doing here is encouraging people to become social entrepreneurs by becoming Nu Skin/Pharmanex distributors?"

For the past 50 years children under the age of 5 have been starving to death at the rate of 15,000 per day.

As Einstein noted, there is something slightly insane about doing the same thing over and over, and yet expecting a different result. By that measure our approach to solving the problem of childhood starvation is at least slightly insane.

I am advocating a different approach. I am doing so openly. That is what I am doing.

NSE, as you noted, is a global direct sales company, and that's good. That means we (NTC) have access to almost 900,000 NSE associates. In other words we can scale faster than most others.

It's about saving children from starvation, not about pandering to the bias of ideologues.

NTC's results are impressive. 35 million meals distributed in its first 3 years. Locally owned food processing facilities, funded by NTC/NSE/FFG grants, in Malawi and China, and with more facilities now being planned.

Food is purchased, whenever possible, from local farmers. Unlike governments that ship grain in, and undermine the local agricultural economy, NTC supports local farmers.

I am encouraging people to explore new methods. Are you opposed to innovation?

et alia asks:

"Q: do the 12 bags donated go into the commissions made by the distributor?"

Yes, the fundraisers are paid. What is wrong with that? Do you think the only way to feed children abroad is to starve children at home? I don't.

The more important question is, are the distributors paid at the expense of the children? The answer: they are not. I'll save my explanation for another post.

Social entrepreneurship (NTC included) gives people a chance to earn an income by producing humanitarian goods. However, I do understand that ideologues might not agree.

10:23 pm  
Anonymous Chris Jordan said...

If I may ask - what is the relevance of the calorific value of the food? Vitameals are specially designed for malnourished children.

Malnourished children require very carefully designed food, containing the correct balance of nutrients.

The calorific value is appropriate to the end user of the product.

Yes, Vitameal was designed by Pharmanex, in conjunction with Dr Ken Brown of UC Davis, the world's foremost expert on the subject of child malnutrition.

Yes indeed Pharmanex is a subsidiary of Nu Skin Enterprises Incorporated.

The Vitameal now being supplied in Malawi is actually manufactured at the plant in Madalitso. This plant was set up as part of the Malawi Project, which is a collective effort, of which Nu Skin Enterprises and Nourish the Children are a part. Other partners in The Nourish the Children Alliance include World Vision, Feed the Children, The UN World Food Programme amongst others.

The plant in Madalitso is now under the ownership of local Malawians, following a series of grants to allow them to purchase the business. So in answer to your 'question' SOME Vitameal is still produced by a Nu Skin company.

The model which is so successful in Malawi is now the template for future projects, so the percentage of Vitameal actaully made by NSE is naturally to reduce over time.

I hope that helps you in your diligent research. It is good to see someone do their homework.

I still don't understand the relevance of the adult calorific value though. Perhaps you could explain?


In order to donate, it is not necessary to create any other business relationship with NSE.

So, ultimately what we are doing is indeed encouraging people to become social entrepreneurs by becoming Nu Skin Enterprises Distributors.

I see nothing wrong with this arrangement. The company matches distributor generated donations at various ratios.

Profit is being reinvested in the initiative by way of administrative cost and corporate donation matching.

Is there a challenge here?

I guess the fact that the initiative runs at a tiny profit could be a challenge to a non-entrepreneur.

However, the non-profit mentality does not necessarily have to be stretched to a 'loss mentality'.

I notice that you have failed to respond to any of Tom's questions to you regarding faulty reasoning. Is there a hidden agenda in play here?

One thing I can assure you about Tom is that his personal commitment to the practice of Social and Humanitarian Entrepreneurship goes beyond his connection to NTC or NSE.

10:32 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good work, et alia. Of course the problem with MLM, as in other pursuits, is the difficulty discerning the true believers from the sociopaths, the conned from the cons, the social entrepreneurs from the sociopathic entrepreneurs. An over-reliance on an appeal to unverifiable statistics might be an indication.

-klaus

4:07 am  
Blogger Tom said...

Klaus,

What "appeal to unverifiable statistics"? If you aren't too lazy, you can verify the numbers.

8:01 am  
Blogger Tom said...

Klaus writes:

"Good work, et alia."

Other than et alia's work as an apprentice demagogue, what work has been done? Do you consider et alia's use of strawman arguments good work?


Klaus tries to make the trivial sound profound:

"Of course the problem with MLM, as in other pursuits, is the difficulty discerning the true believers from the sociopaths, the conned from the cons, the social entrepreneurs from the sociopathic entrepreneurs."

Yes, non-omniscient being have trouble reading minds, but your over alliterated point has little, if any, bearing on the subject matter.

Klaus asserts:

"An over-reliance on an appeal to unverifiable statistics might be an indication."

What unverifiable statistics? In place of innuendo, and links to lyrics, how about offering us some (relevant) evidence to back up your assertions.

8:27 am  
Blogger et alia said...

I'm flattered to have generated so much discussion, albeit of an extremely defensive tone. I would have thought that enterpreneurs would take a challenge or criticism as an opportunity to show and sell the plan. I suppose my gentle decline as a petit rentier has kept me out of touch with current trends; telephone salespeople do not call me anymore, and it is hard for someone in my condition to leave the house.

I'm gratified that I was correct about the relationship between Nourish the Children, Nu Skin, Pharmanex, and VitaMeal. As for Nu Skin's being a listed firm on the New York Stock Exchange, the time when that was a guarantee of profitability and probity is gone, alas, and so I did not mention it for fear of being prejudicial. (My condolescences on Nu Skin's revised 3rd quarter results and underperformance in China, by the way.)

I wish you gentlemen all the best. Don't be so reticent and defensive about Nourish the Children's relationship to Nu Skin. After all, it's on each of their respective webpages. Tell us more about VitaMeal instead of bashing nonprofits—besides, would you turn down a seven-figure foundation grant to bring VitaMeal to a previously unserved area? I don't think so. Be positive!

3:21 pm  
Blogger Tom said...

et alia,

Robust discussion is good, and all comment, including critical comment, is welcome here. This is not a place of 'cloistered virtue.'

With regard to NSE, I esteem its founders and management team. If my words seem to suggest otherwise, attribute the seeming reticence to my linguistic incompetence.

Finally, I have no quarrel with nonprofits. We work with several. My quarrel is with those who reject the humanitarian efforts of social entrepreneurs (not limited to NTC). As a rule those who reject social entrepreneurship are not members of the nonprofit community.

4:22 pm  

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