Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Business Side of Non-Profits

Many people often have the misconception that a non-profit organization might not run exactly like a business.  The thing is that they are very similar.  As a person who has worked for both non-profits and for profits these are the differences and similarities that I see.

  • Annual Budget
  • Revenue Streams
  • Board of Directors
  • Products & Services
  • Flexible Hours*
  • Good Benefits* 
For Profit
  • Annual Budget
  • Revenue Streams
  • Board of Directors
  • Products and Services. 
  • More Rigid Hours
  • Benefits Vary. 
Why is there an asterisk next to flexible hours? Well often times you are dealing with limited resources at a non-profit, you are doing the work of more than one person and you're wearing a lot of hats.  What does that mean? Well when I was a Director of Marketing at a small trade association I stuffed envelopes, sent out mailings and ran registrations at meetings.  Would these be part of my job at a for profit? Nope.

A friend once described a for profit business to me like making a pizza.  At the for profit you have one person that puts the flour in, another that does the stirring, another that watches it rise.  The roles continue add up because the functions at for profits are limited.  Why? Because they hire people to do specific jobs because they are good at them.

Has the economy changed the make up of the for profit and non profit pizza making? Surely! I currently work for a for profit who supports non-profits (keeping up?).  There I make a lot of the pizza on my own and then get approval from the people who are in higher positions.

How do you make your pizza?