Donating IP to a Charity or Nonprofit

I really enjoy reading the Harvard Business Review Blogs. They have such a repertoire. Dan Pallotta writes one called Free the Nonprofits and as you can probably guess, the topic is charities and nonprofits. His latest entry is titled Why Charities Should Ask for Intellect, Not Just Funds and that led me to consider assets that are intellectual property based, such as a patent.

Well, the point of the article is about compensation levels for those that lead the charities. I’ll address my thoughts on this first. Just about everyone applies a certain level of altruism to those that work for a nonprofit or a charity. Perhaps the assumption is wrong, but the thought is that these people just want to better the world some how some way, so they’ll take less than market value to do it. The article talks about proportions and how the size of a budget can potentially warrant certain size pay packages. But that is failed logic too. To me,if someone builds the coffers up from say $50,000 to $5,000,000 then they should get a large pay package. If someone takes a charity from$5,000,000 to $10,000,000 then that is outstanding, but not quite worth the same compensation as the first person. Once a charity reaches a certain threshold it builds on itself. The rules start to not apply as they do in the for-profit space. For instance, getting access to corporate executives is much easier to do if you are a charity than if you are a for profit. And this type of influence is a currency. And these relationships have their own value, that goes beyond a pay package.

But I thought this blog entry was about how people can turn over their intellectual property to a charity. Perhaps this exists already, but suppose there was e a United Way that didn’t collect funding, it took in donated copyrights,  trademarks, and patents. And then it was up to the charity to monetize them or to collect the predetermined licensing fees. I suppose it would work like the Salvation Army or Good Will where most of the stuff turns up little profit, but occasionally something results in a boon.This type of clearing house charity group could extend great power with these assets can could get much needed resources because of them.

Working Thoughts 07/29/08
Fail SpectacularlyRandy Pausch


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