Nonprofits and Governments as Businesses

Why do we ignore some of the most important businesses in the world? Nonprofits and Governments are businesses and we don’t put enough emphasis on their value. Whenever discussed, I believe people envision nonprofits as a rundown vacant building. I know that before I learned about this industry, I took nonprofits for granted and viewed them as very sparse. Of course, they’re inescapable and omnipresent.

In some of our most defining moments as human beings, more than likely there was a nonprofit group. For example, most of we’re born in a hospital. The majority of all hospitals are nonprofits. Another example, the majority of us went to public schools from kindergarten to high school. All public schools are nonprofits. My last example, we all use roads to travel from one destination to another. All roads and highways are government property.

We are surrounded by nonprofits and fail to realize their significance. Many studies have shown that almost every human service agency is a nonprofit that couldn’t be modeled in a for-profit business. They wouldn’t be sustainable. The for-profit business is about making a profit, which is one of their measurement tools for success. The nonprofit business is about providing a service, which is why the number of people served is one of their measurements of success.

To be point blank with the difference, human life doesn’t have a dollar amount but products have a set value. Nonprofits and Governments are focused on services to better the quality of life. Some get confused when they see a nonprofit making large sums of money. These services that both nonprofits and governments provide are not free, so they have to fill a need and provide value. Life in itself doesn’t have a price tag, but to have a specific desired quality of life isn’t free, which is why we buy products from for-profit businesses to be more comfortable, happy, and at peace.

For over 20 years, I’ve worked in the nonprofit industry without this appreciation for these groups and people that have made a positive difference in my life. Now, I’m looking forward to returning the favor. It’s time to make a difference. Starting this summer, I will be teaching at Clark College and sharing this knowledge. The class is BUS280, Nonprofits, and Governments as Businesses.

The nonprofit industry is in desperate need of young and diverse leaders. We need more social entrepreneurs, social workers, leaders, and change agents to help others understand this concept. The world is in need of these types of passionate people. Without great minds and bold moves in giving compassion, selflessness, and zealots, the world will increase with diseases, poverty, hunger, hate, homelessness and so much more.

Join me on the journey. The labor is plenty and the laborers are few. As Gandhi stated, “Be the difference you want to see in the world.”

I write this because my business is personal because this service is for the advancement of all humanity. My failures and successes are for your gain. No strings attached.

Nathan A. Webster, MBA
Marketing Consultant & Marketing Professor
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