Name Conundrum

Name Conundrum

What’s in a name? Well, it’s the first piece of information we receive about a company. It’s what sparks our initial thought process of who they are and what they do. A name serves as a first impression and helps create lasting images of companies.

Companies describing themselves as “nonprofit companies” face a challenge in today’s COVID-19 age. Part of that problem lies in the name alone. The term “nonprofit” is so limiting. In that one title, these organizations define themselves by what they are not, rather than by what they are. Let’s face it, Not For Profit is a tax designation, not a description of what they contribute.

People love words with positive connotations such as charity. The word charity evokes warm feelings that make most of us feel good about our actions, encouraging us to donate. That’s great on the donation front, however, “nonprofit” organizations aren’t really doing charity work. Meaning, it’s not free. The core staff doesn’t work for free and the services they provide aren’t without cost. It requires money to run these organizations and sustain them, allowing them to do more of the work they do.

Just like any other business, money is the fuel that runs things. It isn’t bad, it’s a tool. You can’t drive a car without fuel. What would be the purpose? For these organizations, money is the fuel that powers them. That’s not something to hide!

So, how should they be named?

Give this some thought, like most organizations, you begin by describing what the organization actually does. The role of a “nonprofit” is to provide service and influence or impact for the community. By saying, “This is an influence organization,” the narrative is changed. For example, you could say “this is a service organization,” or, “this is a “nonprofit.” Do you see the difference? 

We live in a world where value is important. To provide value, all organizations must show a profit. However, the goal is to define profit in a way that conveys how many people are helped. Money is just the fuel that runs the engine, the fuel that helps more people. 

Your value as a service or influence organization comes from the service or influence you provide your community. If you receive more money, you can provide more value. 

The overall message here is, don’t focus on your tax status, focus on your name and the meaning behind it. Who are you and what do you do? Hey, it works for “The Food Bank.”