The Business of Changing The World: Non-Profit Versus For-Profit Structure Smackdown

non profit versus for profit

Think only non-profit organizations can have a social mission, and change the world? Think again.

As you build your for-profit empire, you can build build being of service and a social mission into every achievement. You can make lots of money and still be a socially-conscious entrepreneur, using your profits to make a difference in whatever way you choose.

Social entrepreneurship is trendy right now, and I keep meeting more and more entrepreneurs operating non-profit organizations. There’s nothing wrong with that if it’s the right structure for you, but for-profit businesses can change the world too. In fact, you may be able to make an even bigger impact as a for-profit business. Think Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates, Sara Blakely… all have signed the Giving Pledge to give away the majority of their fortunes to do good work in the world.

In this episode of She Takes on the World TV I’m talking about non-profit versus for-profit business structures for your empire, and how you can make a difference in the world no matter what structure you choose. Check it out:

‘Tis the season for giving, so I want to hear from you:

Make a pledge for how you want to make a difference in a comment below, and on Twitter.

[Click to tweet your pledge]

Use the hashtag #PledgeYourProfits and we’ll follow you.

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6 thoughts on “The Business of Changing The World: Non-Profit Versus For-Profit Structure Smackdown

  1. Thanks, Natalie for providing some guidance on how people may choose between nonprofit and for profit status. There are so many options for businesses to make a difference beyond donating money. Providing products and services that address pressing social or environmental problems, operating in ways that lift up communities, and bringing meaningful products to underserved markets are just a few examples. And for entrepreneurs that want to really commit to making a difference and bake that into their companies’ DNA, they may be able to incorporate as a Benefit LLC or Benefit Corporation (my company is a Benefit LLC), which puts people and planet on an equal footing with profit.

  2. I love this idea about donating a portion of profits to a favourite charity. This is a great way to feel like you’re contributing without having to become a non-profit and worry about grants etc.

  3. Great advice Kristina, and I totally agree that there are so many ways businesses can make a difference beyond money. What state are you in? I know not every state has a Benefit LLC available and we don’t have that kind of structure in Canada. In fact, we just don’t have LLCs at all which my U.S.-based lawyer says is more needed in the U.S. because you’re way more likely to be sued at some point as a business. I’ve heard quite a few people debate the Benefit LLC recently, and it seems there are a lot of mixed feelings and opinions on it. I’m very curious to learn more about how it differs from a for-profit structure beyond being “required by law to make a social impact.” Are there added tax benefits that you couldn’t get otherwise as a business that is using some of its profits to make a social impact? It’s an interesting structure indeed!

  4. Great video Natalie!!! I hope that more business start in order to create social change!

    Interestingly enough, I was invited to do a lecture at Wilfred Laurier this week for their Career Center – specifically focused on careers that create social change. At first, I felt like an out-sider as all the other lecturers were non-profits. Then I realized that my business is just as awesome! I really hope I inspired some students to go out there and take on the World! Create Change! Love what you do! And make money!

  5. I believe in business for social good. There are plenty of terms and definitions for social enterprise, but essentially it’s business for social impact. Social enterprises bring the best of business to the social sector and can operate under many legal structures – including for-profit. Social enterprises exist for a social mission, but should have sustainable revenue sources, which many traditional non-profits are also interested in so they reduce their dependence on grants and donations.

    Financial contributions are definitely a great way that other for-profit businesses can contribute to changing the world. As Kristina points out, the way a for-profit business operates can also have a positive impact – choosing to only deal with suppliers/clients that satisfy your business and personal values, and considering people and planet in your business plans/actions plays a part in changing the world.

    Anyone can also give their time and talents to social causes, including pro-bono work or skilled/unskilled volunteering as a one-off or ongoing basis. I believe volunteering (locally and globally) is positively transformative for both the beneficiaries and volunteers – it opens our eyes to new perspectives, helps us see what matters in our life/work and often volunteers increase their financial contributions after seeing first hand the difference they can make it people’s lives (their family’s, their teams, the beneficiaries and even their own). Thanks for bring up this important topic Natalie and thanks for contributing to female entrepreneurs and future leaders in developing countries.

  6. I love this episode Natalie. At the moment I help change the world by offering my pro bono placements for my services to non profits. I have some big dreams of helping in bigger ways once my business is more established. I love helping world changers – and will be bookmarking this video for my clients. Thank you X

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