Some believe that nonprofits are small organizations that provide very focused services to a limited population of people, with very limited amounts of resources to do their work. It is also believed that many of these nonprofits exist “hand-to-mouth,” and for the most part, are always out asking for money from the community to survive.

What many people may not know is that the principles and processes governing most for-profit businesses are also core elements of the nonprofit way of life. Nonprofit organizations are fortunate to attract as board members the talents of bankers, accountants, attorneys, physicians, executives and a host of others with an interest in helping community members through their time and consultation toward the organization’s mission.

The board of directors assumes a fiduciary responsibility which entails reviewing and analyzing data about quality, productivity, cost, efficiencies, effectiveness, strategies and relationships—characteristics of any boardroom in corporate America. The markets may be different, but the outcomes are the same.

Nonprofits offer a product or service and generate revenue by way of grants from federal, state or local governments, private foundations, purchase-of-care agreements, government entitlements, health insurance benefits and private pay; and for some, it is given away to those who do not have access to—or qualify for—any of these payer sources.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011, nonprofits in the Tri-County Area (excluding the faith community and traditional healthcare community) are, as a group, the fifth-largest area employer. They contribute to the economic development of the community not only through jobs for staff members working in these organizations, but also through the purchase of supplies to operate the organization. They are integral community assets, attracting families and individuals to this area because of what they offer. Like our waterways, the rich soils in the region and large manufacturing, high-tech and healthcare entities, these nonprofits frequently provide the assistance required by individuals with a wide range of needs to be productive citizens and to contribute to the economic development, health and artistic, recreational and educational landscape of the region.

For-profit and nonprofit businesses have a lot in common and learn from each other. Each serves a valuable role in our regional development, and each benefits from what the other does. This intertwined relationship allows both groups to invest in the region’s most valuable resources: people.

We want everyone around us to be healthy, motivated, respectful and carry their share of the load. We want them to be prepared and have a sense of hope and opportunity ahead of them. This investment in people is a key step of a community strategy to attract and retain contributors to our future community. iBi