MaRS uses a model which is a good starting place if you are thinking about which organizational structure is best for you.

In the non-profit space the norm is charitable registration (Canada) or 501C3 (US). Traditional businesses have profit as the main if not only goal and for publicly traded corporations; legally the first obligation is gain for the shareholders.

For those who are comfortable in the trad. business space, opting for a non-profit status can seem an odd choice. Who does not want to make a profit? 🙂 It can seem the less confident, less professional option.

However, for those whose life’s work has been in the public sector, NGO, charity space, opting for a for-profit business model may seem rapacious.

Happily there are now several hybrid options available with possibly more emerging so that you now may be able to choose to keep your mission central to your organization while harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit to generate much needed revenue and in some cases find better alternate ways to solve social issues. This is now being referred to as the blended return.

The first organizational type is the non-profit (or charity). This type of organization is funded by philanthropy and grants. In practice many charities rely on some form of business to generate a portion of their annual revenue. From Girl Guide cookies to museum gift shops, there are scores of successful examples.

More on the other models in subsequent posts.

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