Since its inception, Dr. Nancy has referred to the Women Connect4Good Foundation as a social-profit organization rather than a non-profit or not-for-profit organization. Women Connect4Good is only one of thousands of 501(c)3 organizations which Dr. Nancy believes should be described as social-profits, for the value they provide to their communities beyond the limitations of financial measurements. The many ways they do good – by providing resources, guidance, or just a hand up to the people they serve – are innumerable.
“The term ‘not-for-profit’ suggests financial gain is an organization’s only worthwhile value,” Dr. Nancy said. “I much prefer to describe our important community groups as ‘social-profit organizations.’ I believe these vital groups are our path to changing the world, and that we need to change the term to reflect the true nature of the work that most 501(c)3’s do.”
However, social-profits do make a definite financial impact. Currently there are approximately 1.5 million 501(c)3 organizations based in the United States alone. The social-profit sector retained its position as the third-largest employment sector in the U.S. in 2020, employing approximately 12.5 million – or one in every 10 working Americans. In 2018, roughly 63 million Americans volunteered their time with social-profit organizations. In 2020, charitable giving in the United States grew by 2% compared to 2019, totaling $40.7 billion.
More importantly, social-profits also make the world a better place. There are numerous social-profit organizations making a difference in our communities each day. From cultural centers to food banks to disaster relief organizations – think Red Cross, YMCA, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, United Way, Convoy of Hope, and so many others – and they deliver important services, strengthen communities, and facilitate civic engagement. Whether we’re aware of it or not, these organizations play a vital role in our lives, and we all “profit” from their activities in countless ways.
“I had the opportunity to speak to a group of representatives from various 501(c)3’s and referred to their organizations as social-profits,” Dr. Nancy said. “There was some initial confusion until I defined what a social-profit is, and the impact it has. I said, ‘What will we be? What would our society be without the work you do?’ That changed everything.”
Despite growing employment numbers, rising donations, and immeasurable social benefits, many social-profits need our support. Especially since state and local governments have come to depend on 501(c)3 organizations to help solve pressing social problems. And in unpredictable times like these, social-profits – often understaffed and underfunded – continue to provide a host of critically needed services and help hold communities together.
“Social-profits benefit when we all come together to help those who need us, whatever the circumstances may be,” Dr. Nancy concluded. “All of us can help. All of us can serve. All of us benefit when we support our social-profit organizations.”
Switch your perspective when thinking about organizations that are set up to spend their profits on fulfilling their missions to support the greater good instead of filling the pockets of their investors. Think about how these organizations create immeasurable profits that make our communities more welcoming places to live and support work that aligns with our values. Our communities “profit” when we hear the call to action and serve as volunteers and donate our time, treasure, or talent to social-profit organizations. Check out your local community website for social-profits in your area, or go to GreatNonProfits.org or VolunteerMatch.org to get connected with the organizations that make your community strong. Together, that’s how we make a difference with abundant profits that benefit us all.