Let’s be honest. How often do we hear business leaders suggest that a not for profit enterprise is a good place to invest? While it might seem logical to believe that investing in a venture that does not provide direct profit cannot be good for business, I wouldn’t rush to this assumption.
When it comes to the not for profit sector, commercial, and to some extent government, funders do not consider their financial contribution to be an ‘investment’. Traditionally, contributing has been about supporting the sector to either deliver services, that otherwise would be too expensive, to a whole range of consumer groups or, as is more often the case with government agencies, to simply gain more value for the tax payer’s dollar. Nothing wrong with that … except that it’s ‘old’ thinking.
I think the time has come to do real business with the not for profit sector and expand the current repertoire of strategies. For one, it would be a welcome change to see governments and corporates having real conversations about joint strategies and how they could ensure sustainable collaboration with NFPs, who are becoming more confused than ever. After decades of growth with significant assistance from government, the tide of support (which for many seemed as a given) has turned. Not for profits are now expected to be businesses. This is something that the sector has recognised for a while now, however, it has not managed to transform itself and continues to live in hope that governments across Australia will re-engage (read: start funding the sector again).
I think now may be the best time for the NFP sector to pause, reflect and realise that corporate Australia could become a partner in business via new forms of collaboration that would ultimately be of mutual benefit. The corporate sector, in turn, has a unique opportunity to realise its potential through partnering with a significant sector which is relevant to millions of people and, by all indicators, will become indispensable in the future.
The infographic below, courtesy of ROADMENDER, provides an introductory snapshot of the NFP sector.
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