Every now and again one has one of those “aha” moments. Listening to this video about “Don’t Call Yourself a Non Profit” was one of those moments.
Being a person who always tries to be aware of language and communication, this video telling us “Don’t Call Yourself a Non Profit”, states what is so obvious that I kick myself for not thinking of it. Simon Sinek is quite right when he says two significant things in this video. One is that the term “not for profit” or “non profit” is a tax term and not a business one. It’s true! This structure doesn’t pay tax, but it is actually profitable or it wouldn’t be able to continue to do its work on an ongoing basis.
The second important point was don’t tell people what you aren’t, “not for profit”, tell people what you are. Simon uses the term “for impact” organisation. I’m still working through that one and considering other language around what a Community Organisation might do. Perhaps it could be “positive impact organisation” or “community service organisation”? What other terms could you come up with that could express your mission? Whatever it is, it needs to be something that reflects something that we are as an organisation and not something that we are not.
At almost every brainstorming session of business development session I go to I quote an old saying. That saying is, “the meaning of words isn’t in the words, it’s in the people”. In other words, what means one thing to one person may mean something entirely different to another. That’s why language is so important in communication.
Well done Simon on bringing this distinction to people’s attention. As for me, I now have to go and alter a number of websites that say they are a not for profit.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too. Feel free to leave a comment below.
Don’t forget to have a look at our book on Building Community Organisations while you’re here on the site.