In the interest of full disclosure, I will state at the outset that I have worked for “for-profit” enterprises my whole life. In fact, I have owned my own business for the majority of my career where making a profit was virtually a daily concern.
However in the last several years, I have also become actively involved with two nonprofit organizations. I am board chair at my alma mater, Holy Cross High School in Queens, NY, and I am a member of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, where I am a member of the high school scholarship committee.
Being involved with both of these nonprofit organizations has been a wonderful and rewarding experience for me. They have given me the opportunity to see first-hand how these nonprofit organizations have a positive impact on families.
While I get to see specific examples of how the mission of Holy Cross and the Columbus Citizens Foundation benefit students and parents, there is also a broader societal benefit of which I am aware. In my mind it can be summarized by the phrase, “The laws of nature are stronger than the law of man.”
While the applicability of this phrase may not be readily apparent upon initial reflection, the purpose of this blog is to share why I believe it is indeed relevant.
“The laws of nature are stronger than the law of man.”
This adage is, in my mind, woven into the fabric of nonprofit organizations. They have at their essence an underlying premise that they exist to help others. And people, for the most part, want to, and indeed like to, help others. I submit this is a natural desire.
For-profit enterprises also exist to provide a service or product to help others. However delivery of those services and products almost always require a contract based on man-made laws to properly establish the responsibilities of each party to the agreement.
The mission of a nonprofit organization is fundamentally structured around providing a benefit for someone or something. While I recognize that contracts are often involved in the giving or receiving of services in the nonprofit world, the essence of the nonprofit “transaction” is a natural desire to do good for another human being.
So there is my premise – for profit organizations require contracts – the laws of man – to exist; and nonprofit organizations are based in the desire to help others, a universal trait of mankind. No contract is required to embrace that concept.
It is clear to me why people are drawn to nonprofit organizations. There is an essential part of humankind that wants to do well by others. It is a natural instinct. And I have learned first-hand that it also feels good.