Comparing Businesses to Nonprofits

It’s been said the world revolves around money, but that would make nonprofits an anomaly. While fundraising is obviously a crucial aspect of what they do, profit isn’t the bottom line. This is in sharp contrast to companies whose sole purpose is to make money. With this difference comes a different mindset in business practices, as opposed to nonprofits’ behaviors.

I came to this realization after reading an article by Amanda Cullen titled “What Businesses Can Learn From Nonprofits,” which discusses the disparity between businesses and nonprofits. After reading it, I realized that my experiences with the two validated his points.

I’ve volunteered as a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters for nearly three years. During this time, I’ve had the opportunity to sit and chat with those who make the organization move toward its mission “to help children reach their potential through professionally supported, one-to-one relationships with mentors that try to have a measurable impact on youth.”

The organization’s mission motivates us all to put children first, to donate time, energy and resources as much as we can, and to give it our best effort for the sake of the kids. We do this without receiving significant financial compensation because that’s not why we do what we do. We do it because we care and want to do something for others out of the kindness in our hearts.

My experience with a nonprofit contrasts with my experience working for a for-profit company. During my time in customer service, I was taught to strive to meet customers’ needs, but to ultimately sell, sell, sell. The reason for great customer service was to ensure making a profit. If I didn’t treat the customer with respect, I wouldn’t make a sale, and thus making me useless to the company.

Comparing these two experiences side by side shows me what motivates nonprofits (people) and corporations (money). However, as Yastrow stated in his article, if businesses can change their practices to mimic nonprofits’ behaviors, I believe everyone would be better off and everyone would win.


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