2 minute read

IGNITE April 2019

Shattering non-profit myths

Working every day doing what we love

Recently, I was in a conversation and was asked what I do for a living. I told them I work for a non-profit, and their immediate response was, “aw, you poor thing.”

I was taken aback at first. Then I realized that it is common knowledge that a lot of people think working for a non-profit means you are working for free. That is called volunteering. Nonprofits have to pay their employees just like any other business, and non-profits have to sustain themselves just like any other business.

I was doing a little research, and I want to share with you some of the myths about non-profits, and how they are not true.

Myth: Nonprofits don’t have paid staff; they only use volunteers

Reality: WHAT? You guys. … This is not real. Non-profits have to pay their employees just like any other business. If we did not get paid to work, we would be volunteering. Estimated in 2013, the nonprofit sector employed more than 14.4 million people. Could you imagine if that many people worked for free? It is not possible. Non-profits have to pay their employees; it’s a business. Yes, non-profits are a business.

Myth: Nonprofits can’t earn a profit

Reality: From what you just read, you can see this is not true. We have to make a profit to pay our employees;, to create new programs and to sustain ourselves as a business.

So I guess the word non-profit is a little misleading. The “profit” of a nonprofit organization is called a net asset, which is calculated by deducting expenses and losses from the amount of revenue. Any profits are rolled back into the business and not distributed to any owners or shareholders. Non-profits have to pay for things just like anyone else. You know, things like paying the electric bill, paying for snow removal and salting, and every other bill that comes when you own a building. Long story short, nonprofits have to earn a profit to keep them up and running.

Myth: Nonprofits get most of their funding from foundations

Reality: I’m sure when you think of a non-profit, one of the first things that comes to mind is donations. At RAMP, we LOVE donations just like any non-profit does. Every donation helps! Yes… we do get money from foundations, but we also have many other areas we get our funding from.

To name a few, RAMP gets funding from special events, selling curriculums, renting out our patio and parking lot, offering food truck lunches during the summer (check out our Facebook page in the summer for details), individual donors, churches, corporations, etc.

Yes, foundations are so impactful and help make our organization run like a well-oiled machine.

Like I said above, we have a lot of different ways to fundraise and take it upon ourselves to seek out our own sources of revenue. We are pulling out everything we can think of to sustain ourselves. Our mission states “Encouraging individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential and to be independent.” If we are helping our consumers be independent, we thought that we should be independent ourselves.

I will explain in detail about one of the funding sources I mentioned -- renting out our patio space, fully furnished with couches, tables, lights, etc. We are having it open to use to the public for a sponsorship, hosting employees/customers, bridal/birthday/ reunion parties. You can pay by the hour. The options are endless, and we welcome any new ideas for its use.

Now that you know we don’t work for free, stop feeling sorry for us. We get to go to work every day doing what we love, and we are changing lives in the meantime. Like I said, don’t feel sorry for us, we love it!

Brooke Schrieber is development associate at RAMP and a member of IGNITE.
The views expressed are those of Schrieber’s and do not necessarily represent those of the Rockford Chamber of Commerce.