how non-profits impede themselves

When I was little my family went to Avalon after we went to Ocean City. We started going to Avalon as a family in the early 1970s because Ocean City at that point was getting so overwhelmed by new development we didn’t like it as much.

We had friends who loved Avalon. They had houses on 17th St. and 13th St. and a couple back up on the bay in those fingers where all the new houses with docks were popping up.

I have written about my memories of Avalon before so I don’t need to rehash them. I had written about Avalon again recently in the context of these wonderful historical videos that the historical society or the history center had on YouTube.

Seeing videos wanted me to buy the history book that was referred to throughout these videos by Robert Penrose who passed away a year ago this time. So I hunted around and couldn’t find any copies of the book anywhere so I wrote to the Avalon History Center/Avalon Historical Society. Could I buy a book, make a donation, and pay for shipping.

I don’t know any nonprofit large or small that isn’t willing to ship items they sell. I wasn’t asking for the item to be shipped for free, I wasn’t on any particular time schedule, I just would like to buy a copy of the book and pay someone to ship it.

Guess what? They couldn’t possibly. Quite literally they won’t. They are small, they have dedicated volunteers, but they couldn’t possibly ship anything.

Now I am not some crazy wealthy heiress who’s going to leave them a bucket of money, but I am a lover of history and a supporter of historical societies and small history-based nonprofits. I will never give anyone tons of money because that’s not in my wheelhouse to do at this point in time, but I do support organizations like this with annual memberships and whatnot. And what I can’t do in check writing, I try to make up in kind by paying it forward as a blogger.

From California through to the Montauk Lighthouse I have never had a nonprofit say they wouldn’t be willing to send me something if I was willing to pay to ship it. and for the most part I’m not talking huge non-profits.

I don’t go to Avalon anymore. It’s quite simply too built up for me. The last visits to the Jersey shore were years ago, and seriously? In South Jersey with the exception of Cape May a lot of these other towns have lost their charm because the development took over. So it’s not like I’m going to summer down there and I can just ride my bike over to the history center and pick up a copy of the book.

And I don’t really think I should impose on anyone to pick up the book for me. It’s kind of the principle of the thing at this point.

Nonprofits can be very shortsighted. I’ve seen it around here. One of my favorite examples is the uber insular and I can’t believe they’re not dead already Radnor Conservancy. They are one of those nonprofits that I do not understand at all. I don’t even understand how they’re still in existence. and that’s just one example.

And people who work for nonprofits that would never send anything anywhere, started rethinking everything when Covid hit. All the zoom platform talks and lectures and gatherings, to yes indeed they would ship their gift items if you were willing to pay for it.

Quirky bits of history are kind of one of my things. That’s why I wanted the book on Avalon. But it’s not worth it to them to extend themselves to try to get more people interested and more donations. Because if these folks were willing to extend themselves, they would offer to ship books, T-shirts, memorabilia they sell. It’s not so difficult to do. And people understand with small nonprofit they might only ship a couple of times a month or something like that.

So I will close the door on wanting this book. And it will make me think twice about ever visiting Avalon in the future. Right or wrong it doesn’t leave a good impression.

I wish them all the best and keeping the history going on the island. And maybe someday a copy of the book will show up on eBay.

Let this be a cautionary tale to small nonprofits. and having volunteered with very small nonprofits in my life, I usually found them to be the most generous of nonprofits —-the fewer the hands the more open the hearts.

Thanks for stopping by.

3 thoughts on “how non-profits impede themselves

  1. While I can’t vouch for it, there is a place to download this book, allegedly. I did find copies for sale on the Internet, for hundreds of dollars. Apparently, this book is rare and in demand,
    Good luck.

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