Aircraft carrier as illustration of “overhead” needed to get something done

4,100 people work so 200 can fly.

In August, my wife and I toured the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum in San Diego. Quite a treat if you enjoy either airplanes or naval ships.

One narrative plaque really caught my attention. It quoted someone as saying that 4,100 people are hard at work onboard so 200 can fly airplanes. Since the purpose of the carrier is to put planes in the air, everyone else on board is in a ‘supporting’ function.

Seems to me that this is a good illustration of the concept of overhead or functional allocation that we work with in the nonprofit world.


Refueling the Thunderbirds flight demonstration team as an illustration of how much it takes to get something done

I’m developing a post on the functional allocation issue.  Particularly how expensive it is to conduct ministry in the American cultural context. Part of that discussion will be analogies to the “overhead” it takes the US military to accomplish its mission.

As a lead-in to that idea, consider the following blog post by Jasmine Lee, a photographer who went on a KC-10 flight to refuel some C-17s and the Thunderbird flight demonstration team.

U.S. Air Force Media Flight – Travis Air Force Base… Part I

Some really cool pictures.  A good photographer, decent equipment, flight of F-16s, a tanker to put you 100 feet from said flight, and awe-inspiring skill of the USAF crews combined to produce fabulous photos.

Also an amazing 37 second video of an F-16 sliding into position to draw fuel.

As you look at the pix, consider the amount of effort that is behind the scenes.


“Nonprofit Starvation Cycle”

Stanford Social Innovation Review has a superb article on the cycle many NPOs have of starving themselves of critical infrastructure they need to be effective in their mission.

Superb summary: “The first step in the cycle is funders’ unrealistic expectations about how much it costs to run a nonprofit. At the second step, nonprofits feel pressure to conform to funders’ unrealistic expectations. At the third step, nonprofits respond to this pressure in two ways: They spend too little on overhead, and they underreport their expenditures on tax forms and in fundraising materials. (more…)