The Emerging Status of Nonprofits And the Bystander Effect
On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was returning home from work as a bar manager in New York. She parked her car and walked towards her apartment, just a 100 feet away. Suddenly she heard footsteps racing behind her. Before she could react, the assailant stabbed her twice. Screaming at the top of her lungs, she cried for help; repeatedly. No one came. She died two hours later.
As investigators and reporters began piecing the story together, they were shocked by the lack of citizen intervention. At least two dozen people heard the screams over a 30-minute time span. Politicians, psychologists and clergymen were outraged, calling it another example of our apathetic social decay.
But two psychologists weren’t so sure. They wanted to know why Kitty was offered no help. Over the course of the next year, they conducted a series of experiments in crowded and private situations to understand what triggers and doesn’t trigger a response from bystanders. Here’s what they discovered:
Crowds behave like schools of fish – they group think. If there are no reactions to a stimulus, no one in the crowd will act. They found that “no one wants to stands out in a crowd.” This was proven time and time again as experiments were conducted on busy New York streets.
But as they tweaked their experiments, they finally discovered the answer and what instigates a reaction.
In today’s version of the “bystander effect,” one of our most precious socially important industries continue to pattern their future in the same methods as the past. As funds continue to dry up, many nonprofit agencies continue to seek financial help by using a single method of revenue generation: writing grants.
In comparison, a growing legion of innovative nonprofits across the globe are building “social enterprises,” and generating income through their own sales and services. One important result of this type of income is that grant-makers are more inclined to approve funds to organizations that are proving their ability to diversify their resources and gain greater self-sufficiency.
So in collaboration between Renaissance Marin and the Marin Community Foundation, we’re launching our best effort to break the bystander effect. Open to the first 20 nonprofits, this is an opportunity for agencies to learn the methods for building their own social enterprises. Think about the alternative: stay steady on your current course and watch your grant dollars diminish. The cost is also exceptionally affordable with some tuitions at $100 – less than seven percent of a popular national training program.
This is the one and only time we’ll be offering this training in 2013. The program is tailored made for nonprofits with little or no experience with business modeling. Not only will you learn all the essentials, you’ll have an opportunity to pitch your concepts to a panel of well accomplished business and social entrepreneurs. For ten groups that finish this two-month program, personal consultation will be provide to help you take your concepts to reality.
In addition, the workshops have been developed to respect your busy schedule. We’ll be meeting once every Thursday morning for three hours during the eight-week program starting January 31.
To get all the information, we urge you to attend the upcoming orientation on Thursday, Dec. 13; 10am at Renaissance Marin, 1115 3rd Street, San Rafael.
This program is specific to nonprofit agencies in Marin County and highly recommended for organizations receiving their funding through MCF.
For reservations to the orientation, please call us at 415.755.1115.
If you find yourself among of sea of bystanders unwilling to help you, what the researchers found was to target a single individual, get in front and make a plea. They found that tactic was the most effective way to gain help because a single individual when alerted stops group-think and becomes personally responsible.