April 16, 2016

Nonprofits are Businesses Too

by nathanwebster in SEwNAW Podcast

Too many times do I get the crazy looks when I explain nonprofits are businesses too. Why is it so complicated to understand nonprofits are businesses? I’m like, “Seriously?!” Well, this is a problem that needs to be addressed, seriously. Nonprofits are businesses- like, really important ones too!

So why don’t we learn that nonprofits are businesses?

Personally, I believe it’s because no one teaches this in basic K-12 education. Professionally, I don’t believe society understands the true value that nonprofits contribute to our economy, community and well-being as humans. Even though a sports league or church is a nonprofit, but the purpose of the organization doesn’t focus on why it’s an organization, which is another reason why people don’t know much about nonprofits. Then I get that one-liner, “Nonprofits don’t make a profit [ha-ha-ha]!” Ummmmmm, no. Nonprofits do make a profit.Nonprofits are Business Too

Nonprofits are disrespected all day, everyday. Just like for-profit businesses, not all are profitable. Nonprofit groups and organizations meet the human intangible needs such as: healthcare, education, government and religion. Most are service-oriented with intangible outcomes. In this social entrepreneur podcast, I use Stanford Social Innovation Review‘s white paper, What Business Execs Don’t Know–but Should–About Nonprofits. SSIR’s content is from 2006, but is very relevant to today’s issues of nonprofits not be recognized as businesses.

Too many times I’ve received professional training/education needed for my success, but the presenting educators and leaders didn’t cater the workshop/presentation to nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs. This also includes books, videos, and services. Unfortunately, nonprofits are treated as a ‘second-hand’ or ‘less-than’ organization.

As a social entrepreneur, people will disrespect you. Not everyone will. However, most for-profit execs approach nonprofits as ‘less-than’ leaders, but be prepared for those crazy looks. You may even have to give a crazy look back and say, “You didn’t know nonprofits are businesses too? Wow, where have you been Yo?!” While you say it with a laugh, don’t let people undervalue the work and impact you make in our society.

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In the meantime, Dream Big and Godspeed.