FOUNDER AND CEO, BOUNCE CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION
CHANGING OUR MINDSET WILL MOVE THE PRIVATE AND SOCIAL SECTORS CLOSER TOGETHER – ENHANCING BOTH.
If you still say “Non-Profit”, it’s time to upgrade your thinking to “Not for-Profit”. Why? It conveys purpose and intention, without placing limitations on outcomes.
For social service organizations, like Bounce Children’s Foundation that transforms the lives of chronically ill children and their families, “profit” is called “change in net assets.” A positive one is good, building the “rainy day fund” required to invest in additional capacity and new approaches to improving lives.
Not-For-Profit as a Tax Status? Yes! Organizations doing good deserve a break. They pick up where others – large corporations, small businesses, and governments – leave off, doing what no one else can. And we all win when they do.
Not-For-Profit as a State of Mind? No! To announce you don’t want to earn a profit is to declare, up front, you don’t want to succeed. Nothing could be further from the truth for those of us doing good – and the millions who benefit from our work. Not only do not-for-profits want to succeed, we need to succeed.
To succeed, everyone must learn, grow, and adapt – from their own experiences and those of others. For not-for-profits, this includes learning from those tasked with making a profit. After all, we “run businesses” too.
Like our for-profit counterparts, not-for-profits serve clients, solve problems, employ people, account for operations, create digital relationships, manage logistics, build brands, leverage technology, and innovate. It’s just that our “businesses” have a different “bottom line”, paying neither dividends nor taxes, but making others richer in ways that really matter.
Growing those bottom lines deserves every best practice, every proven strategy, every advantage. If you’re in the not-for-profit sector, “borrow” from both sectors and use it for good. Learn from all with something to teach. Connect with those who make you think. Share your best practices. You have much to offer. If you’re not in the sector, seek out someone who is and note the similarity of challenges and strategies. You’ll learn and develop newfound respect. Better leadership will result on both sides.
Bottom line – the space between for-profit and not-for-profit is not as large as we once thought. Corporations are paying more attention to social responsibility, bowing to market pressure to do good while making money. The social sector is paying more attention to financial performance as a driver of greater mission impact. The shift from “non-profit” to “not-for profit” thinking leads to more social good. And that’s a win for all!
Joan M. Steltmann, Founder and CEO of Bounce Children’s Foundation, is a passionate advocate for children and families. While consistently driving double digit growth in the number served, she led Bounce to earning a Chicago Innovation 2019 Social Innovator Award, just four years after launch. Always building, Joan blends proven best practices garnered during 15 years at IBM with 20 years of executive leadership experience transforming lives.