Models for decompression sickness have become a standard for environmental physiology exposures. In altitude exposures, NASA utilizes probabilistic models to evaluate risk for various decompression strategies as well as medical health concerns like cancer. The recent Red Bull Stratos high altitude jump by Felix Baumgartner is an example the application of NASA’s pre breathe reduction protocol with known risks to increase safely for someone outside the normal mission parameters for which it was designed. In diving, the US Navy designs, tests, and utilizes models developed to increase the safety of their divers by targeting specific risks. One of Rubicon’s ongoing projects is the application of Dr. Gerth’s models to assess the risk of decompression sickness for commercial decompression planning software and common technical diving profiles.
Models of various kinds impact the way we live and decisions we make all the time. Even something as simple as how we get to work is impacted by models to decrease traffic congestion or headway in subway systems. My job in medical simulation has me interacting with or constructing various models that control blood pressure, heart rate, and drug doses. We use all these to impact learning in our own educational or patient safety models. Then I am off to dinner where I choose stopping to interact with grocery store models for what to stock. If we decide to go to a restaurant, models exist for everything from how many staff they need to have when we get there to what music we should be listening to so we eat faster and make room for the next customers ($CMG).
Models exist for nonprofit fundraising as well. Many of these models revolve around the idea of getting people motivated to get involved. This article breaks down ten funding models that applied by nonprofits to gain support from either lots of individual donations, a few individuals/ foundations, or government sources. There are of course many examples available but even in these most common funding pathways, the focus is on getting funding and not creating funding.
Over 1.58 million nonprofit organizations were registered with the IRS in 2011 with 40.1% of those reporting had budgets of less than $100,000 that same year.(1) The top 4.4% of nonprofit budgets were reported to be $10 Million or more. We find it interesting that 2.6% of the income to all groups within the sector are investment related (figure to the right).
Could it be that the vast majority of nonprofits in the country have been working year to year like we have been without building any kind of reserve? In an earlier post about the idea behind this experiment I expressed my frustration with being pulled in so many directions. So much of my time needed focused on funding that sometimes the primary mission seems secondary to paying for the work. A real change in how nonprofit organizations look at income creation is something that is desperately needed. The smaller groups like ourselves that do not charge for our services or any goods seem to be at a particular disadvantage when it comes to funding personnel to answer emails or phone calls with basic questions about our services. We do brilliant work but can’t afford social media gurus or grant writers to help us find the opportunities.
We have received a few interesting questions since we first began talking about this experiment. After the post describing our perception and threshold for risk, I was told that be bigger risk would be to my reputation if the experiment failed. Our view when we evaluated the personal risk before starting was that this just simply needs to be done. What would a failed experiment really mean? That we tried something and it did not work? Would we really be doing our community a real service if we were not looking towards the future and working to improve our long term growth?
Recently, venture capitalist Marc Andreessen began tweeting his thoughts and ideas about many topics. Earlier this month he was pointing to successful technology companies that were really putting themselves out there and working hard to make a real difference in their respective areas.
I really do believe that Marc sums up our position quite well. Experiments really are needed. I have a hard time believing that nobody has tried something similar to this in the past but we are inviting everyone along to share our journey in building this model. No way to know what our probability of success will be but we do feel really good about the probability for learning something along the way!
1. Sarah L. Pettijohn. 2013. The Nonprofit Sector in Brief: Public Charities, Giving, and Volunteering, 2013. Urban Institute.
Gene Hobbs is a technical diver and founding board member of the non-profit Rubicon Foundation. Hobbs has served as medical officer for the Woodville Karst Plain Project since 2004 and was named the 2010 Divers Alert Network/ Rolex Diver of the year. Hobbs is the medical simulation coordinator for a simulation and patient safety laboratory at a major university medical center.