Thursday, 3 February 2011

Accumulation, earnings, proceeds, return, surplus, yield....thoughts on 'not-for-profit'


There's no doubt that the term "not-for-profit" is one of the most annoying phrases - used mostly to enable the organisation or individual concerned to clamber up to the very tippy-top of the moral high ground.

Or else as a clever marketing scam!

What exactly does "not-for-profit" mean? Does it mean you plan to make a loss? Or that any excess money left over will be given away to the poor? Or is it just a euphemism for "I can pay myself loads of money but we don't have any shareholders and that's good, isn't it?"

For that's the case. Being 'not-for-profit' doesn't mean you're going good work, it doesn't mean the buyer isn't being ripped off, it doesn't stop you turning what would be dividends to owners into bigger salaries for managers and it's not a magic way of acquiring moral righteousness.

So I'm not impressed when I hear a very well-paid chief executive explain how their organisation is 'not-for-profit' while sitting on a comfortable - maybe verging on fat-cat - salary. If that isn't profiting from the organisation you run, what is?


1 comment:

Mike Chitty said...

The thing that makes my blood boil is social enterprises who claim to 're-invest profits in community regeneration', at every opportunity, while gobbling up funds intended to regenerate said community and never making any profits!