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A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public or social benefit, in contrast with an entity that operates as a business aiming to generate a profit for its owners. A nonprofit is subject to the non-distribution constraint: any revenues that exceed expenses must be committed to the organization's purpose, not taken by private parties. An array of organizations are nonprofit, including some political organizations, schools, business associations, churches, social clubs, and consumer cooperatives. Nonprofit entities may seek approval from governments to be
tax-exempt Tax exemption is the reduction or removal of a liability to make a compulsory payment that would otherwise be imposed by a ruling power upon persons, property, income, or transactions. Tax-exempt status may provide complete relief from taxes, reduc ...
, and some may also qualify to receive tax-deductible contributions, but an entity may
incorporate Incorporation may refer to: * Incorporation (business), the creation of a corporation * Incorporation of a place, creation of municipal corporation such as a city or county * Incorporation (academic), awarding a degree based on the student having a ...
as a nonprofit entity without securing tax-exempt status. The key aspects of nonprofits are accountability, trustworthiness, honesty, and openness to every person who has invested time, money, and faith into the organization. Nonprofit organizations are accountable to the donors, founders, volunteers, program recipients, and the public community. For a nonprofit that seeks to finance its operations through donations, public confidence is a factor in the amount of money that a nonprofit organization is able to raise. The more nonprofits focus on their mission, the more public confidence they will have. This will result in more money for the organization. The activities a nonprofit is partaking in can help build the public's confidence in nonprofits, as well as how ethical the standards and practices are.


Statistics in the United States

According to the
National Center for Charitable Statistics The National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) is a clearing house of data on the U.S. nonprofit sector. The National Center for Charitable Statistics builds national, state, and regional databases and develops standards for reporting on the ...
(NCCS), there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the United States, including public charities,
private foundation A private foundation is a charitable organization that, while serving a good cause, might or might not qualify as a public charity by government standards. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the U.S. with over ...
s, and other nonprofit organizations. Private charitable contributions increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2017 (since 2014), at an estimated $410.02 billion. Out of these contributions, religious organizations received 30.9%, education organizations received 14.3%, and human services organizations received 12.1%. Between September 2010 and September 2014, approximately 25.3% of Americans over the age of 16 volunteered for a nonprofit.


Mechanism of money-raising

Nonprofits are not driven by generating profit, but they must bring in enough income to pursue their social goals. Nonprofits are able to raise money in different ways. This includes income from donations from individual donors or foundations; sponsorship from corporations; government funding; programs, services or merchandise sales, and investments. Each NPO is unique in which source of income works best for them. With an increase in NPO's within the last decade, organizations have adopted competitive advantages to create revenue for themselves to remain financially stable. Donations from private individuals or organizations can change each year and government grants have diminished. With changes in funding from year to year, many nonprofit organizations have been moving toward increasing the diversity of their funding sources. For example, many nonprofits that have relied on government grants have started fundraising efforts to appeal to individual donors.


Nonprofit vs. not-for-profit

Nonprofit and not-for-profit are terms that are used similarly, but do not mean the same thing. Both are organizations that do not make a profit, but may receive an income to sustain their missions. The income that nonprofit and not-for-profit organizations generate is used differently. Nonprofit organizations return any extra income to the organization. Not-for-profits use their excess money to pay their members who do work for them. Another difference between nonprofit organizations and not-for-profit organizations is their membership. Nonprofits have volunteers or employees who do not receive any money from the organization's fundraising efforts. They may earn a salary for their work that is independent from the money the organization has fundraised. Not-for-profit members have the opportunity to benefit from the organization's fundraising efforts. In the United States, both nonprofits and not-for-profits are tax-exempt under IRS publication 557. Although they are both tax-exempt, each organization faces different tax code requirements. A nonprofit is tax-exempt under
501(c)(3) A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is one of the 29 types of 501(c) organizati ...
requirements if it is either a religious, charitable, or educational based organization that does not influence state and federal legislation. Not-for-profits are tax-exempt under
501(c)(7) A 501(c) organization is a nonprofit organization in the Law of the United States#Federal law, federal law of the United States according to Internal Revenue Code and is one of over 29 types of nonprofit organizations exempt from some Taxation in ...
requirements if they are an organization for pleasure, recreation or another nonprofit purpose.Burgess, M. (26 October 2017) What is the difference between nonprofit & not for profit?. Retrieved from https://bizfluent.com/info-7991949-difference-between-nonprofit-not-profit.html Nonprofits are either member-serving or community-serving. Member-serving nonprofit organizations create a benefit for the members of their organization and can include but are not limited to credit unions, sports clubs, and advocacy groups. Community-serving nonprofit organizations focus on providing services to the community either globally or locally. Community-serving nonprofits include organizations that deliver aid and development programs, medical research, education, and health services. It is possible for a nonprofit to be both member-serving and community-serving.


Management

A common misconception about nonprofits is that they are run completely by volunteers. Most nonprofits have staff that work for the company, possibly using volunteers to perform the nonprofit's services under the direction of the paid staff. Nonprofits must be careful to balance the salaries paid to staff against the money paid to provide services to the nonprofit's beneficiaries. Organizations whose salary expenses are too high relative to their program expenses may face regulatory scrutiny. A second misconception is that nonprofit organizations may not make a profit. Although the goal of nonprofits isn't specifically to maximize profits, they still have to operate as a fiscally responsible business. They must manage their income (both grants and donations and income from services) and expenses so as to remain a fiscally viable entity. Nonprofits have the responsibility of focusing on being professional, financially responsible, replacing self-interest and
profit motive In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods a ...
with mission motive. Though nonprofits are managed differently from for-profit businesses, they have felt pressure to be more businesslike. To combat private and public business growth in the public service industry, nonprofits have modeled their business management and mission, shifting their raison d’être to establish sustainability and growth. Setting effective missions is a key for the successful management of nonprofit organizations. There are three important conditions for effective mission: opportunity, competence, and commitment. One way of managing the sustainability of nonprofit organizations is to establish strong relations with donor groups. This requires a donor marketing strategy, something many nonprofits lack.


Functions

NPOs have a wide diversity of structures and purposes. For legal classification, there are, nevertheless, some elements of importance: * Management provisions * Accountability and auditing provisions * Provisory for the amendment of the statutes or articles of incorporation * Provisions for the dissolution of the entity * Tax statuses of corporate and private donors * Tax status of the founders. Some of the above must be (in most jurisdictions in the
USA The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country primarily located in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all ...

USA
at least) expressed in the organization's charter of establishment or constitution. Others may be provided by the supervising authority at each particular jurisdiction. While affiliations will not affect a legal status, they may be taken into consideration by legal proceedings as an indication of purpose. Most countries have laws that regulate the establishment and management of NPOs and that require compliance with
corporate governance Corporate governance is the collection of mechanisms, processes and relations used by various parties to control and to operate a corporation. Governance structures and principles identify the distribution of rights and responsibilities among d ...
regimes. Most larger organizations are required to publish their financial reports detailing their income and expenditure publicly. In many aspects, they are similar to corporate
business entities In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whole. A system, surrounded and influenced by its environment, is described by its b ...
though there are often significant differences. Both not-for-profit and for-profit corporate entities must have board members, steering-committee members, or trustees who owe the organization a
fiduciary duty 300px, The court of chancery, which governed fiduciary relations in England prior to the ''Judicature Acts'' A fiduciary is a person who holds a legal Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elemen ...
of loyalty and trust. A notable exception to this involves churches, which are often not required to disclose finances to anyone, including church members.


Formation and structure

In the United States, nonprofit organizations are formed by filing bylaws or
articles of incorporation Articles of incorporation, also referred to as the certificate of incorporation or the corporate charter, are a document or charter that establishes the existence of a corporation in the United States and Canada. They generally are filed with the S ...
or both in the state in which they expect to operate. The act of incorporation creates a legal entity enabling the organization to be treated as a distinct body (corporation) by law and to enter into business dealings, form contracts, and own property as individuals or for-profit corporations can. Nonprofits can have members, but many do not. The nonprofit may also be a trust or
association Association may refer to: *Club (organization), an association of two or more people united by a common interest or goal *Trade association, an organization founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry *Voluntary association ...
of members. The organization may be controlled by its members who elect the
board of directors A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, ...
,
board of governors A board of directors is a group of people who jointly supervise the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit or a nonprofit organization such as a business, nonprofit organization, or a government agency. The powers, dut ...
or board of
trustee Trustee (or the holding of a trusteeship) is a legal term which, in its broadest sense, is a synonym for anyone in a position of trust and so can refer to any person who holds property, authority, or a position of trust or responsibility to transfe ...

trustee
s. A nonprofit may have a delegate structure to allow for the representation of groups or corporations as members. Alternatively, it may be a non-membership organization and the board of directors may elect its own successors. The two major types of nonprofit organization are membership and board-only. A membership organization elects the board and has regular meetings and the power to amend the bylaws. A board-only organization typically has a self-selected board and a membership whose powers are limited to those delegated to it by the board. A board-only organization's bylaws may even state that the organization does not have any membership, although the organization's literature may refer to its donors or service recipients as 'members'; examples of such organizations are
FairVote FairVote (formerly the Center for Voting and Democracy) is a 501(c)(3) organization A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) ...
and the
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ) is a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that advocates for the reform of marijuana laws in the United States regarding both medical and non-medical use. According ...
. The
Model Nonprofit Corporation ActThe Model Nonprofit Corporation Act (MNCA) is a model act prepared by thNonprofit Organizations Committeeof the Business Law Section of the American Bar Association. The MNCA is a model set of statutes governing nonprofit corporations proposed for a ...
imposes many complexities and requirements on membership decision-making. Accordingly, many organizations, such as the
Wikimedia Foundation The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF, or simply Wikimedia) is an United States, American non-profit and charitable organization headquartered in San Francisco, California. The Foundation (nonprofit), foundation supports and participates in the W ...
, have formed board-only structures. The
National Association of Parliamentarians The National Association of Parliamentarians (NAP) is, despite its name, an organization with international membership that is the largest non-profit association of parliamentarians in the world. NAP is dedicated to the study, promotion, and use of ...
has generated concerns about the implications of this trend for the future of openness, accountability, and understanding of public concerns in nonprofit organizations. Specifically, they note that nonprofit organizations, unlike business corporations, are not subject to
market discipline Market is a term used to describe concepts such as: *Market (economics) *Market economy *Marketplace, a physical marketplace or public market Geography *Märket, an island shared by Finland and Sweden Art, entertainment, and media Films *Market ...
for products and shareholder discipline of their capital; therefore, without membership control of major decisions such as the election of the board, there are few inherent safeguards against abuse. A rebuttal to this might be that as nonprofit organizations grow and seek larger donations, the degree of scrutiny increases, including expectations of audited financial statements. A further rebuttal might be that NPOs are constrained, by their choice of legal structure, from financial benefit as far as distribution of profit to members and directors is concerned.


Tax exemption

In many countries, nonprofits may apply for tax-exempt status, so that the organization itself may be exempt from income tax and other taxes. In the United States, to be exempt from federal income taxes, the organization must meet the requirements set forth in the
Internal Revenue Code The Internal Revenue Code (IRC), formally the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, is the domestic portion of federal statutory tax law in the United States, published in various volumes of the United States Statutes at Large, and separately as Title 26 o ...

Internal Revenue Code
. Granting nonprofit status is done by the state, while granting tax-exempt designation (such as 501(c)(3)) is granted by the federal government via the IRS. This means that not all nonprofits are eligible to be tax-exempt. For example, employees of non-profit organizations pay taxes from their salaries, which they receive according to the laws of the country. NPOs use the model of a
double bottom lineDouble bottom line (abbreviated as DBL or 2BL) seeks to extend the conventional bottom line In business Business is the activity of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling Product (business), products (such as ...
in that furthering their cause is more important than making a profit, though both are needed to ensure the organization's sustainability. An advantage of non-profit organisations registered in the UK is that they benefit from some reliefs and exemptions. Charities and non-profits are exempt from Corporation Tax as well as the trustees being exempt from Income Tax.


Social Welfare nonprofits

In the U.S., "social welfare" nonprofits (IRS Section 501(c)(4)) are frequently used by politicians. Their use has resulted in controversies for politicians such as
Kwame Kilpatrick Kwame Malik Kilpatrick (born June 8, 1970) is an American former politician who served as a Democratic Michigan Michigan () is a U.S. state, state in the Great Lakes region, Great Lakes and Upper Midwest regions of the United States. It ...

Kwame Kilpatrick
and
Gretchen Whitmer Gretchen Esther Whitmer (born August 23, 1971) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the 49th governor of Michigan since 2019. A member of the Democratic Party, she served in the Michigan House of Representatives from 2001 to 2006 a ...

Gretchen Whitmer
.


Problems


Founder's syndrome

Founder's syndrome is an issue organizations experience as they expand. Dynamic founders, who have a strong vision of how to operate the project, try to retain control of the organization, even as new employees or volunteers want to expand the project's scope or change policy.


Resource mismanagement

Resource mismanagement is a particular problem with NPOs because the employees are not accountable to anyone who has a direct stake in the organization. For example, an employee may start a new program without disclosing its complete liabilities. The employee may be rewarded for improving the NPO's reputation, making other employees happy, and attracting new donors. Liabilities promised on the full faith and credit of the organization but not recorded anywhere constitute
accounting fraud Accounting scandals are business scandals which arise from intentional manipulation of financial statement Financial statements (or financial reports) are formal records of the financial activities and position of a business, person, or other e ...
. But even indirect liabilities negatively affect the financial sustainability of the NPO, and the NPO will have financial problems unless strict controls are instated. Some commenters have argued that the receipt of significant funding from large for-profit corporations can ultimately alter the NPO's functions. A frequent measure of an NPO's efficiency is its
expense ratioThe expense ratio of a stock fund, stock or asset fund is the total percentage of fund assets used for administrative, management, advertising (12b-1), and all other expenses. An expense ratio of 1% per annum means that each year 1% of the fund's to ...
(i.e. expenditures on things other than its programs, divided by its total expenditures).


Competition for talent

Competition for employees with the public and private sector is another problem that nonprofit organizations inevitably face, particularly for management positions. There are reports of major talent shortages in the nonprofit sector today regarding newly graduated workers, and NPOs have for too long relegated hiring to a secondary priority, which could be why they find themselves in the position many do. While many established NPOs are well-funded and comparative to their public sector competitors, many more are independent and must be creative with which incentives they use to attract and maintain vibrant personalities. The initial interest for many is the remuneration package, though many who have been questioned after leaving an NPO have reported that it was stressful work environments and implacable work that drove them away. Public- and private-sector employment have, for the most part, been able to offer more to their employees than most nonprofit agencies throughout history. Either in the form of higher wages, more comprehensive benefit packages, or less tedious work, the public and private sectors have enjoyed an advantage over NPOs in attracting employees. Traditionally, the NPO has attracted mission-driven individuals who want to assist their chosen cause. Compounding the issue is that some NPOs do not operate in a manner similar to most businesses, or only seasonally. This leads many young and driven employees to forego NPOs in favor of more stable employment. Today, however, nonprofit organizations are adopting methods used by their competitors and finding new means to retain their employees and attract the best of the newly minted workforce. It has been mentioned that most nonprofits will never be able to match the pay of the private sector and therefore should focus their attention on benefits packages, incentives and implementing pleasurable work environments. A good environment is ranked higher than salary and pressure of work. NPOs are encouraged to pay as much as they are able and offer a low-stress work environment that the employee can associate him or herself positively with. Other incentives that should be implemented are generous vacation allowances or flexible work hours.


Online presence

Many NPOs often use the
.org The domain name org is a generic top-level domain Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are one of the categories of top-level domains (TLDs) maintained by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use in the Domain Name System of t ...
or
.us .us is the Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ' ...
(or the
country code top-level domain A country code top-level domain (ccTLD) is an Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate betwee ...
of their respective country) or .edu
top-level domain A top-level domain (TLD) is one of the Domain name, domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet after the root domain. The top-level domain names are installed in the DNS root zone, root zone of the name ...
(TLD) when selecting a
domain name A domain name is an identification string that defines a realm of administrative autonomy, authority or control within the Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected compute ...
to differentiate themselves from more commercial entities, which typically use the
.com The domain name com is a top-level domain A top-level domain (TLD) is one of the Domain name, domains at the highest level in the hierarchical Domain Name System of the Internet after the root domain. The top-level domain names are instal ...
space. In the traditional domain noted in , .org is for 'organizations that didn't fit anywhere else' in the naming system, which implies that it is the proper category for non-commercial organizations if they are not governmental, educational, or one of the other types with a specific TLD. It is not designated specifically for charitable organizations or any specific organizational or tax-law status; however, it encompasses anything that is not classifiable as another category. Currently, no restrictions are enforced on registration of .com or .org, so one can find organizations of all sorts in either of these domains, as well as other top-level domains including newer, more specific ones which may apply to particular sorts of organization including
.museum museum is a sponsored top-level domain (sTLD) in the Domain Name System The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical and decentralized naming system for computers, services, or other resources connected to the Internet The Inte ...
for museums and .coop for
cooperative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned enterprise".Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Advocates argue that these terms describe the sector in its own terms, without relying on terminology used for the government or business sectors. However, use of terminology by a nonprofit of self-descriptive language that is not legally compliant risks confusing the public about nonprofit abilities, capabilities, and limitations. In some Spanish-language jurisdictions, nonprofit organizations are called "civil associations".


See also

*
Community organizationCommunity organization or Community Based Organization refers to organizing aimed at making desired improvements to a community's social health, well-being, and overall functioning. Community organization occurs in geographically, psychosocially, cul ...
*
Effective altruism Effective altruism is a philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philoso ...
*
Fundraising Fundraising or fund-raising is the process of seeking and gathering voluntary financial contributions by engaging individuals, businesses, charitable foundations, or governmental agencies. Although fundraising typically refers to efforts to gather ...

Fundraising
* Master of Nonprofit Organizations *
Mutual organization A mutual, mutual organization, or mutual society is an organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, an institution, or an association – comprisin ...
*
Non-commercial A non-commercial (also spelled noncommercial) activity is an activity that does not, in some sense, involve commerce Commerce is the exchange of goods and services, especially on a large scale. Etymology The English-language word ''commerce'' ...
*
Non-governmental organization File:Europe in a suitcase - UK.jpg, upright=1.3, alt=A roomful of people, Europe-Georgia Institute head George Melashvili addresses the audience at the launch of the "Europe in a suitcase" project by two NGOs (the EGI and the Friedrich Naumann Fo ...
* Nonprofit organization laws by jurisdiction *
Non-profit organizations and access to public information When government agencies outsource basic services to third-party non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a ...
*
Non-profit technologyNonprofit technology is the deliberative use of technology Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of Art techniques and materials, techniq ...
*
Occupational safety and health Occupational safety and health (OSH), also commonly referred to as occupational health and safety (OHS), occupational health, or occupational safety, is a multidisciplinary field concerned with the safety Safety is the state of being "safe", ...
* Social economy *
Supporting organization (charity) 300px, IRS Supporting Organization Flow Chart A supporting organization, in the United States, is a public charity that operates under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code The Internal Revenue Code (IRC), formally the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, is t ...
* United States non-profit laws *
Voluntary sector The voluntary sector, independent sector, or civic sector is the duty of social activity undertaken by organization An organization, or organisation ( Commonwealth English; see spelling differences), is an entity – such as a company, a ...


References


Further reading

* Snyder, Gary R.
''Nonprofits: On the Brink : How Nonprofits have lost their way and some essentials to bring them back''
2006. * P. Hartigan, 2006
'It's about people, not profits'
''Business Strategy Review'', Winter 2006


External links

*
Nonprofits & Philanthropy Research at IssueLab
{{DEFAULTSORT:Non-Profit Organization *
Types of organization{{Commons category, Types of organization : This category collects articles on types of organizations. See :Organizations by type, which collects categories of organizations by type. Organizations Types, Organizations ...
Trade unions
Television terminology {{CatAutoTOC Terminology Terminology is a general word for the group of specialized words or meanings relating to a particular field, and also the study of such terms and their use. This is also known as terminology science. Terms are words and ...
Social economy