10 Differences Between non profit and not for profit

Non Profit vs. Not For Profit: Understanding the Differences

Are you confused about the differences between non-profit and not-for-profit organizations? Despite the similar terms, there are distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will delve into the definitions, examples, and uses of both non-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Additionally, we will provide a comprehensive table showcasing the key differences between the two. So let’s explore the fascinating world of non-profit and not-for-profit entities.

What is/are Non Profit?

Non-profit organizations, also known as 501(c)(3) organizations in the United States, are entities that operate to benefit society rather than generating profits for private gain. These organizations focus on fulfilling specific missions or causes, such as charitable, religious, educational, scientific, or literary activities. Non-profit organizations heavily rely on donations, grants, and fundraising initiatives to finance their operations.

Examples of Non Profit Organizations:

1. American Red Cross
2. World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
4. Amnesty International
5. Teach For America

Uses of Non Profit Organizations:

1. Providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief
2. Promoting education and literacy
3. Supporting healthcare and medical research
4. Advancing the rights of marginalized groups
5. Preserving the environment
6. Encouraging arts and culture
7. Promoting social justice
8. Funding scientific research
9. Assisting individuals with disabilities
10. Engaging in community development initiatives

What is/are Not For Profit?

Not-for-profit organizations, also called non-profit for tax purposes, are entities that are not operated for the purpose of generating profits or financial gains for its members or shareholders. These organizations address societal needs and reinvest any surplus funds into the organization itself rather than distributing them among its stakeholders. Not-for-profit organizations can include professional associations, social clubs, industry groups, and trade unions.

Examples of Not For Profit Organizations:

1. Girl Scouts of the USA
2. American Bar Association
3. Rotary International
4. National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
5. International Rescue Committee

Uses of Not For Profit Organizations:

1. Providing professional development and networking opportunities
2. Advocating for industry-related policies and regulations
3. Promoting ethical business practices
4. Engaging in community service projects
5. Supporting cultural and recreational activities
6. Fostering social interactions and networking
7. Offering education and certification programs
8. Representing the interests of a specific profession
9. Hosting conferences and events
10. Supporting charitable causes through fundraising

Differences Between Non Profit and Not For Profit

Area of Difference Non Profit Not For Profit
Profit Distribution Prohibited Prohibited
Legal Structure 501(c)(3) organization Various legal structures
Access to Grants Eligible for government and private grants Eligible for public grants
Tax-Deductible Donations Donations are tax-deductible for donors Donations may or may not be tax-deductible
Primary Focus Serving the community or a cause Serving the needs of its members or stakeholders
Revenue Sources Donations, grants, fundraising events Membership fees, donations, fundraising events
Exempt from Income Taxes Generally exempt from income taxes Can be exempt from income taxes
Board Composition Volunteer board of directors Varies depending on legal structure
Regulatory Requirements Subject to more strict regulatory requirements Subject to less strict regulatory requirements
Use of Surplus Funds Reinvested to further the organization’s mission Reinvested into the organization or distributed to members


In conclusion, non-profit organizations and not-for-profit organizations share similarities but also have distinct differences. Non-profit organizations operate solely for the benefit of society, while not-for-profit organizations focus on specific needs of their members or stakeholders. Understanding these differences is crucial for individuals and businesses looking to support or engage with these organizations.

People Also Ask:

Q: What are some common misconceptions about non-profit organizations?
A: Some misconceptions about non-profit organizations include assuming that they cannot generate profits or that their employees do not receive salaries.

Q: Can non-profit organizations pay their staff?
A: Yes, non-profit organizations can hire paid staff members to support their operations. However, the primary goal should still be the fulfillment of their mission rather than generating financial gains.

Q: Are not-for-profit organizations exempt from taxes?
A: Not-for-profit organizations can obtain tax-exempt status, but it is not automatically granted. They need to meet specific criteria and apply for tax-exempt status through the relevant government agencies or tax authorities.

Q: How can I contribute to non-profit organizations?
A: You can contribute to non-profit organizations by donating funds, volunteering your time and skills, participating in fundraising events, or advocating for their causes.

Q: Can not-for-profit organizations engage in commercial activities?
A: Not-for-profit organizations can engage in commercial activities if those activities are directly related to their primary mission and further their non-financial goals. However, generating profits is not the main objective of these activities.

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