Nonprofit Business Models – Getting Past the Semantics
11/17/11 / Karla Raines
The concept of a nonprofit business model has percolated up to the collective conscious. You know you’ve hit on something interesting when it is being embraced by some and hotly debated by others. The ongoing conversations about arts organizations nationally (the Colorado Symphony is a prime local example) illustrate this fact.
Too many nonprofits – and the same is true for businesses and governments – have business models that simply don’t work any longer. The media is filled with stories of unsustainable institutions, whether they are cities like Denver (reliant on sales tax), the legal profession (deliver services in the billable 15 minute increment), or nonprofits (dependent upon contracts or grants from sources in decline).
Ultimately, it’s not a matter of what we call it but how soon can it be addressed. We can argue the term – I don’t like it; it sounds too corporate; how do we define it? Or, we can get to the work at hand, namely designing nonprofit organizations that align with today’s realities, demands, and opportunities. Let’s embrace the nonprofit business model with the best of intentions in service to communities and customers.