ProFile: Ben Vitale
Nonprofits increasingly are modeling their practices after for-profits. This helps fundraisers professionalize their organizations and hold themselves fiscally accountable.
One fundraiser who's seen this evolution take place and even helped it along is Ben Vitale, who was recently named president of The Climate Trust, a Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit promoting climate change solutions. Vitale has a background in both nonprofits and for-profits — Vcapital, Motorola and Conservation Inter- national — which he's used to form innovative programs in his career.
FundRaising Success spoke with Vitale about how the for-profit world can offer valuable insights for nonprofits and how his dual background helps him in his goals at The Climate Trust.
FundRaising Success: Coming from a for-profit business background, what steered you toward nonprofit work?
Ben Vitale: What led me here was really the mission aspect of the environmental community and the vision of a business model convergence when you look at what's going on in the nonprofit sector and the for-profit sector with regard to the environment. I wanted to be involved and help move those new combined business models forward that take the best of the nonprofit world and the best of the for-profit world and try to solve environmental problems.
FS: How has your background in the for-profit world helped you at the nonprofits you've worked at?
BV: The first is you have quantifiable result orientation in the private sector. That leads to clear goals in the nonprofit side. Applying that private-sector regimen and planning really professionalizes work in the nonprofit sector more.
That tighter focus adds more of a professional management approach. If you look over the past 10 years, nonprofits — especially large nonprofits — need to be managed more professionally and have transparency aspects that the private sector is required to in reporting.