While I don’t currently work in the non-profit realm, I spent many years working at theaters that were, almost invariably, non-profits.
The anthropology of theaters is worth another post (or really, a book), but suffice it to say that pretty much all the theaters I’ve ever worked at started based on the zeal and passion of a handful of people. They were artistic start-ups, if you will. Time and again, I saw theaters that hit a plateau in terms of growth that seemed to invariably include what I came to call “the poverty mentality.” It was a thriftiness driven to pathological extremes of cheapness.
Vu Le, of Nonprofit AF, has some thoughts about that insane cheapness, which he calls the PISS mentality (Pride in Scarcity and Sacrifice). I love that and will now start using that except in mixed company where people will get pissy about pointing out their PISSiness.