Stop Making Excuses for Non Profits

Non Profit is not a business model. It’s a tax distinction. It means the organization fits within a set of guidelines created by the IRS to allow them to accept tax-deductable donations and not have to pay taxes on income related to their mission.

THAT’S ALL IT MEANS. Nowhere does it say that we can let these businesses suck and people will understand. Bad business is bad business, no matter what status the IRS decides to give you.

And yet…

“As a non-profit theatre, [some theatre company] is run entirely by a volunteer force.” – Some job posting

NON PROFIT DOESN’T MEAN NO MONEY! There are 501c3 organizations that have multi-million dollar budgets, and there are regular businesses that can’t seem to turn a profit.

“If it’s not chaotic, it’s not non-profit.” – Paraphrase from a board member from some organization.

NON PROFIT DOESN’T MEAN BAD BUSINESS! Some very successful non profits are run very smoothly, just as there are tons of for-profit businesses that can’t get their shit together.

Haters gonna hate. We can’t change what the world thinks, but it really pisses me off when people working for a non profit say these things. The lack of confidence and lack of caring about good business practices suggests to me that this business is unlikely to amount to anything in the near or distant future.

How about we commit to BETTER BUSINESS? Time to draft contracts for everything, create a company handbook, document all processes, research business and marketing, start caring more about budgets, do better financial planning, create the awesome website you should have, and raise more funds to PAY PEOPLE. Let’s stop depending on passion to fuel these businesses; it’s enough to get one started, but not enough to keep one going or growing.

Why do you think the excuses exist for NPOs? What do you think we should do about it? Let me know in the comments.

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