What is a “Non-profit” organization? Let’s start by changing the phrasing to something more accurate yet easily interchangeable. YogaShield Yoga For First Responders (YFFR) is a “Not-For-Profit” organization. Many people may be doing work that is essentially not for a profit, but to be recognized by the Federal Government as such, you must apply for the 501(c)(3) code from the US Internal Revenue Service.
What does it mean to be “Not-For-Profit”? There has been a lot of confusion around this type of business model, and yes, it IS in fact a business and should function as one. Many have confused “Not for Profit” for “Not for Cost” or “Not for Pay” or run exclusively by volunteers. A “Not for Profit” business model does not mean we don’t take money or charge money. It means that the money we receive is not going toward a growing profit that we will use to buy a yacht or a YFFR beach house. What is it for if it’s NOT for profit? It’s for paying our domain and website, it’s for paying our contractors, it’s for all the costs that go into putting on a training, it’s for legal counsel, it’s for the costs of putting on classes and much more. Is there anything in this world that does not have a cost associated with it, especially for a business? When you donate to a not-for-profit, you can be assured that those funds are being directed to one or several of the above listed items and NOT toward a vacation for the CEO. Remember, the CEO does not own the Not-For-Profit. No one does. The CEO and all other employees do get a paycheck. You have to pay people for their time and expertise. CEO pay is decided on by a Board of Directors which is required to be a section 501(c)(3) non-profit. Once the paycheck for the CEO, employee or contractor hits their personal bank account, how they spend it is up to them. But you can be assured that when dealing with small to midsize Not For Profit organizations, employees and contractors are being paid a lot less than average for their type of work and time they work. Often, those who do work in the not-for-profit field give more energy, time and dedication to projects because they typically have a personal connection or motivation to be working for that specific mission.
Not-for-profits are mission-driven. In YFFR we rarely if ever deny anyone our training models. If you need assistance, especially financially, we will do all we can. But keep in mind, if you are an agency, organization or individual who does have funds, pay for the services from a not-for-profit fully and gladly knowing that your funds are allowing others to get these same services who might otherwise not be able to.
There are pros and cons when it comes to running a Not-For-Profit or working for one whether as a contractor or employee. You may miss the opportunity of being fortunate enough to come across a service or product for which people will pay huge amounts of money and subsequently benefiting from a huge personal profit. On the flip side, your service may not be a product craze that people will drain their bank accounts for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, sustainable and keep working as long as you wish on your mission. Not-For-Profits are eligible for significant personal, business, local, state and federal grants that can be a substantial amount of money. Not-For-Profits often are given discounts for many necessary products or large financial or in-kind donations. And of course, Not-For-Profits are exempt from paying taxes. Beyond how rewarding it is to run a business that is based on a mission I am passionate about, I find it easier to run a Not-For-Profit because I get to speak to people’s hearts of giving and servitude toward their community verses a convincing them of a “need” for a certain item or service that is often fabricated by a salesperson. That being said, I’d be a mess without my Apple products, Starbucks has become a second office and I am a sucker for a good Groupon. I also don’t want to speak poorly about Sales or Salespeople. There is an art to sales and there is also a need.
Mentorbox, another valuable FOR profit business that has helped me tremendously, sends out business secrets for its customers. Business Secret #3 states, “If you have a proven product or service that gives value to the world, and you do not purposely do whatever is necessary to get new potential customers to BUY, then you are doing a disservice to the world.” There is a necessary need for profit-driven companies and their products, but they are not the only ones who need money to function and operate. If anything, Not-For-Profits need it more as we still have the same basic survival demands as anyone else, but without the luxury of a consumer-driven product or service. And although the work Not-For-Profits are doing holds high value and relevance, the urgency of a morning coffee at Starbucks can overshadow philanthropic importance.
Next time you see the description of a business as a “Non-profit”, read it to yourself as “Not-for-profit”; read it to yourself as “Not for themselves, but for others”; read it as, “Not free from costs, obligations, contracts, hard work, time, effort, or challenges.”
And then, if you have it available to you, donate even as little as $5 knowing that not only could you be helping the overall mission of the organization directly, but you also just made someone’s work day just a little bit easier.