My Mom and the Pie Argument

One common argument against the creation of more nonprofits has to do with pie. Not delicious pie, but a theoretical pie of resources that is available to social sector organizations in a given community. The theory says that there is a finite amount of resources at play, and that if there are more organizations, the share of resources available to each participant gets reduced. In other words, the pie gets cut into smaller pieces.

My response to this idea always has to do with my mom. I live in San Diego and my mom lives in Florida. While she gives modestly to causes she cares about in her hometown, she doesn’t give any money to organizations in San Diego. If I were to start a new nonprofit here, my mom would support it. Her financial contribution would be a new addition to the San Diego philanthropic community, representing not a smaller slice but a growth in the size of the pie.

Tiny Opera House believes that there is no pie limitation. Donors are not giving at capacity, and each nonprofit team has access unique assets that can grow the total amount of resources available to the sector as a whole. Donors have the ability to augment their giving and will do so when they connect with a cause, new organization, or new program that they believe in. New ideas and new organizations mean more opportunities to connect with the community of supporters in any area. So our focus shouldn’t be on the limitations of a theoretical finite set of resources, but how can we as a sector grow the pie that is available for everyone.

And even if you don’t believe me, then maybe this recipe from our family cookbook for delicious pie will change your mind.