Money Matters, Well Sort Of

One of the most refreshing aspects of working for a nonprofit organization is the overall reduced emphasis on the bottom line and the implacable drive to satisfy their mission. Money always matters, even in the sector named for its disinterest in generating it. The difference, at least in general terms, between the business and nonprofit sectors lies with the focus that drives them. The business sector is nearly absolute in its concentration on profits; it becomes a self-devouring practice, allowing individual firms to engage in immoral, unsustainable, and even inhumane policies in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Nonprofits are supposed to be different; at least that is what we were taught in school.

My experience, insofar as it relates to the attitude and procedures surrounding profits, has reinforced this axiom. The focus with Immigration Counseling Services at the Vineyard Community Center is with our clients–immigrants and refugees with a dire need for quality, subsidized legal aid. Money is important, no organization will persist without proper care to their finances, but profit is not the central or main goal. There are no shareholders in the Third sector waiting on their dividends. Nonprofits do not measure their success solely based on accounting ratios; rather, they measure their affluence in the number of clients assisted, in the number of lives ameliorated. This, I have experienced first hand, and having a career in the nonprofit sector has never been more attractive.

-Abdul Alwattar

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