Why non-profit organizations should work together with for-profit organizations

Having found Awaken&More, a non-profit consultancy for non-profit organizations (NPO) run by highly skilled students proved to be a great learning experience. This blog post explains why NPOs should work together with for-profit organizations and why one working in the non-profit sector can still want to work for a for-profit organization in the future. There are many NPO objecting to work together with for-profit organization because of different values. It seems as organizations care more about their values than their mission and vision.

Distinguishing between bad and good for-profit organizations

Making a profit as a for-profit organization does is not necessarily bad. What is actually bad? Something that either hurts oneself, others or the environment. But as long as the product or service, which is being offered, is not bad and brings value or satisfies the customer or client, its existence can be fully accepted. There might be a clear distinction between what a NPO does and what a for-profit organization does but ultimately they do the same: both organizational forms are satisfying unmet needs or wants.

Fostering partnerships that accelerate mission and vision realization

Now, when the values of both, the NPO and the for-profit organization are different, one could object working together but sometimes not only values are important but also the mission and vision. If the vision is to awaken hidden potential, then nothing should restrain from working together with other NPOs. However, working with for-profit organizations should also be viable if they believe in the same vision, even when the values would be completely different. Prerequisite: it is not a “bad” for-profit organization. It does not mean that one should necessarily strive for such partnerships but if the for-profit organization offers a valuable contribution which helps to accomplish the mission and vision of the NPO, then I believe that this contribution should be accepted. For example, while Awaken&More strives to create social impact for NPOs, we have several partnership, such as with Ernst & Young and other mentors, all stemming from the for-profit sector. Awaken&More’s values are achieving, caring, learning and being transparent whereas Ernst & Young’s values are integrity, respect and teaming. There is no reason to think that it is going hurt anyone when working together. The opposite is the case, through these established partnerships we assist and accelerate our mission of create social impact. Without our partnerships, our effectiveness and efficiency would be much lower, thus slowing down our mission progression.

Going beyond values

We are all valuable despite having different kinds of values. Values are important, but beyond values lies existence itself, which is shared by all organizations. Humans give meanings to and put values on all sorts of things but truly existence is what really lies beyond values. When not trying to put meaning or labels on something one rapidly realizes that reality is simply an unfiltered version of awareness (Singer, 2007). That inner feeling, called instinct, is what forms one’s vision and mission of the day. The instinct is a reflection of the bare existence. Following the instinct is sometimes difficult but often proves to feel good. Follow only values could eventually backlash for example, when having to tweak the mission and vision so that it fits the values, but then one are hinders the instinct to realize itself. One would hinder its bare existence to express itself. At the end, one would end up doing something different than one would truly want to do.

Striving for a shared mission and vision

If two people with different values stranded on an isolated island and want to find their way back to civilization they need to work together. Soon, values and their meaning will be replaced by something one could call shared mission and vision (SMV). Their different values would merge into each other to achieve the higher vision of escaping the island and get back to civilization. For instance, through ancient trade on the Silk Road, citizens of the Roman Empire would receive new luxuries and reach greater prosperity for the Empire as a whole (Liu, 2010). Values, because of extremely different cultures, were very different but the vision of prosperity brought both cultures together, all the while focusing on SMV.

If the instinct tells to work together with a for-profit organization that has the same SMV and does not hurt oneself, others or the environment, then this instinct should be followed. Ultimately, if all individuals and organizations would start focusing on SMV and put their different values aside, then perhaps we would satisfy more needs and wants and create surprisingly more value for the society as a whole.

References

Liu, X. (2010). The Silk Road in world history. Oxford University Press.

Singer, M. A. (2007). The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself. New Harbinger Publications.

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