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HBA · Esra Osman

The Business of Nonprofits

Dec 5, 2023

Esra Dec5

In a profit-driven world, the pursuit of wealth is always the main focus; money is at the core of all decisions, wielding all the power. Thus, as humans, it is in our intrinsic nature to associate business with money and fortune. Due to this instilled belief, it comes to many as a surprise when they learn that nonprofits are businesses within a booming industry.

To clear the misconceptions, nonprofits are defined as legal entities that are purpose driven. As opposed to traditional corporations who operate in their own self-interest, nonprofits' goal is not to maximize profits for themselves; instead, they generate money to help a social cause or provide public benefit. Once all costs, expenses, and salaries are paid off, the excess money is donated to a supported cause or reinvested back into the organization. Even though they are not primarily focused on making a profit, nonprofits must operate as fiscally responsible corporations. In terms of the operation of nonprofits, they are governed by bylaws. Additionally, they are structured similarly to for-profit corporations, as they also consist of a board of directors and employees, debunking the myth that nonprofits are run solely by volunteers. The major difference between nonprofit corporations and for-profit corporations is that nonprofits are exempt from taxes. This allows them to maximize the money given to the social cause the corporation is supporting.

Due to nonprofits' firm stance in a purpose driven ideology, most people associate them with charities, churches, and social advocacy groups. However, a nonprofit can be just about anything in any sector of business: hospitals, labour unions, universities, and colleges are all considered nonprofits! Furthermore, the world renowned luxury brand Rolex is owned by the Wilsdorf Foundation, a nonprofit organization. Hence, this makes Rolex itself a nonprofit. Although Rolex irrefutably makes millions in profits every year, it reinvests the majority of that profit back into the company and donates a significant portion to charities that align with the company’s values. As a leading innovator in the watchmaking industry their products do not only symbolize a sense of class and status but also serve as a reminder of their positive contributions towards society.

In all honesty, you may be thinking how exactly this could be of benefit to you or your goals, aspirations, and future livelihood. Well, as previously mentioned, nonprofits are a thriving sector meaning there are potential careers in this industry! The gross domestic product (GDP) of the nonprofit sector has been increasing since 2010. These institutions accounted for $185.8 billion in 2020, which represents nine percent of Canada’s total GDP. Nonprofits are responsible for a significant contribution to the Canadian economy whilst also improving peoples’ well-being.

As the younger generation, we are the changemakers and the future leaders of tomorrow. We have a stronger desire to make a meaningful impact to society than previous generations. In an era where moral fulfillment at the workplace is encouraged, if you hope to pursue business whilst also serving a greater purpose, the nonprofit industry is your calling. As the saying goes, money runs the world, but perhaps it can also heal the world -- one nonprofit at a time.