Scale is Not a Magic Bullet

The concept of economies of scale makes the most sense when applied to the manufacturing sector. If you’re building a car, then you have to buy parts to make that car, and those parts cost money. If you have the capacity to buy parts in bulk, then you can pay less per part and ultimately pay less for each car you make. This is how big businesses can benefit from a lower per unit cost for things that they do at scale.

But scale requires standardization. In order to make a cheaper car per unit, you have to build the same car using the same parts. And nonprofits don’t always work that way. Even if there are 5,000 people in an area that need to be housed, or educated, or inspired, the solution is not going to be the same for each individual.

So maybe the solution to 5,000 problems is not one organization serving all 5,000 but 500 serving 10. Stable, horizontal solutions where smaller organizations that understand the unique and specific needs of particular segments of the population are able to effect change on a personal level and can be more powerful than the same solution applied 5,000 times. Hundreds of tailored solutions by empowered individuals and small organizations create a vibrancy and authenticity in the nonprofit scene that we find tremendously satisfying.