Excerpted from Donnie Maclurcan:
“Distinguishing between non-profit and not-for-profit in use of language is particularly important for two reasons: Firstly, because of the way the game is set up in the U.S. where not-for-profit entities are often called ‘non-profits’ and that these generally represent the old-school model of grant-dependent organisations rather than functioning enterprises. Secondly because of the hermeneutics – In my experience, when people are presented with the words ‘non-profit’ they understandably think ‘no-profits’. When I say ‘not-for-profit’, there seems much more leeway to understand the ability to make profit, just for it to not be privatised profit. In this sense you’re right: ‘not-for-distributable-profit’ or ‘not-for-the-purpose-of-profit’ would be better ways to describe such groups. That said, non-profit will always remain too (as an important sub-division of a not-for-profit world)! Not everything in the not-for-profit umbrella will involve enterprise. Think of a protest rally, for example, where there are no fees for participation and no donations are taken. This can still build social capital but is actually a non-profit activity and, if it were in Australia and the organising committee for the rally has any recorded minutes, then the entity could actually be considered an unincorporated association (i.e. a not-for-profit that is non-profit!).
I believe profit will remain an important driver in any economy moving forward – not because of the payoffs in terms of big salaries and bonuses, but in terms of sustainable business and what this means for the support of full employment, livelihoods and service provision. That is, profit will always remain an important indicator, for many not-for-profit businesses, of their viability and sustainability. The beauty here is that, for people who think small business is “the only answer”, they can take heart in many not-for-profit start-ups thinking more ‘small-business-like’!”