As part of my 'Freebees' Honey Gift Set brief, I want to specifically look at methods of sustainability in both manufacturing and producing. The name 'Freebees' was conceived from the idea that I could propose the product/brand to be a nonprofit organisation, with all profits going to various honeybee charities (to research at a later date) in the United Kingdom.
In order to get to understand the concept of not-for-profit, I decided to research the basics, with the written information below, all information sourced from the independent wikipedia page.
A nonprofit organization (US) or not-for-profit organisation (UK and elsewhere) (NPO) is an organization that uses surplus revenues to achieve its goals rather than distributing them as profit or dividends. States in the United States defer to the IRS designation conferred under United States Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c), when the IRS deems an organization eligible.
While not-for-profit organizations are permitted to generate surplus revenues, they must be retained by the organization for its self-preservation, expansion, or plans. NPOs have controlling members or boards. Many have paid staff including management, while others employ unpaid volunteers and even executives who work with or without compensation (occasionally nominal). Where there is a token fee, in general, it is used to meet legal requirements for establishing a contract between the executive and the organization.
Designation as a nonprofit and an intent to make money are not related in the United States. This means nothing can be conferred by the declaration. It is unclear whether or not this holds outside of the U.S. In the United States, such inference is the purpose of the Internal Revenue Code, Section 501(c). The extent to which an NPO can generate surplus revenues may be constrained or use of surplus revenues may be restricted.
NATURE AND GOALS
Some NPOs may also be a charity or service organization; they may be organized as a not-for-profit corporation or as a trust, a cooperative, or they exist informally. A very similar type of organization termed a supporting organization operates like a foundation, but they are more complicated to administer, hold more favorable tax status and are restricted in the public charities they support.
NPOs have a wide diversity of structures and purposes. For legal classification, there are, nevertheless, some elements of importance:
- Economic activity.
- Supervision and management provisions.
- Accountability and auditing provisions.
- Provisions for the amendment of the statutes or articles of incorporation.
- Provisions for the dissolution of the entity.
- Tax status of corporate and private donors.
- Tax status of the foundation.
Some of the above must be, in most jurisdictions, expressed in the charter of establishment. Others may be provided by the supervising authority at each particular jurisdiction.
While affiliations will not affect a legal status, they may be taken into consideration by legal proceedings as an indication of purpose.
Most countries have laws which regulate the establishment and management of NPOs, and which require compliance with corporate governance regimes. Most larger organizations are required to publish their financial reports detailing their income and expenditure publicly. In many aspects they are similar to corporate business entities though there are often significant differences. Both not-for-profit and for-profit corporate entities must have board members, steering committee members, or trustees who owe the organization a fiduciary duty of loyalty and trust. A notable exception to this involves churches, which are often not required to disclose finances to anyone, including church members.
FORMATION AND STRUCTURE
In the United States, nonprofit organizations are formed by filing bylaws and/or articles of incorporation in the state in which they expect to operate. The act of incorporating creates a legal entity enabling the organization to be treated as a corporation by law and to enter into business dealings, form contracts, and own property as any other individual or for-profit corporation may do.
Nonprofits can have members but many do not. The nonprofit may also be a trust or association of members. The organization may be controlled by its members who elect the Board of Directors, Board of Governors or Board of Trustees. A nonprofit may have a delegate structure to allow for the representation of groups or corporations as members. Alternatively, it may be a non-membership organization and the board of directors may elect its own successors.
The two major types of nonprofit organization are membership and board-only. A membership organization elects the board and has regular meetings and power to amend the bylaws. A board-only organization typically has a self-selected board, and a membership whose powers are limited to those delegated to it by the board. A board-only organization's bylaws may even state that the organization does not have any membership, although the organization's literature may refer to its donors as "members"; examples of such organizations are Fairvote and the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. The Model Nonprofit Corporation Act imposes many complexities and requirements on membership decision-making. Accordingly, many organizations, such as Wikimedia, have formed board-only structures. The National Association of Parliamentarians has generated concerns about the implications of this trend for the future of openness, accountability, and understanding of public concerns in nonprofit organizations. Specifically, they note that nonprofit organizations, unlike business corporations, are not subject to market discipline for products and shareholder discipline of their capital; therefore, without membership control of major decisions such as election of the board, there are few inherent safeguards against abuse. A rebuttal to this might be that as nonprofit organizations grow and seek larger donations, the degree of scrutiny increases, including expectations of audited financial statements.
In many countries, nonprofits may apply for tax exempt status, so that the organization itself may be exempt from income tax and other taxes. In the United States, to be exempt from federal income taxes the organization must meet the requirements set forth by the Internal Revenue Service.
In the UK, many nonprofit companies are incorporated as a company limited by guarantee. This means that the company does not have shares or shareholders, but it has the benefits of corporate status. This includes limited liability for its members and being able to enter into contracts and purchase property in its own name. The goals ("objects") of the company are defined in the Memorandum of Association when the company is formed. The profits of the company (also referred to as the trading surplus) must be invested in achieving these goals and not distributed to the company's members.
Since the Companies Act 2006, nonprofit companies may be formed as a Community Interest Company (CIC). These are forms of company limited by guarantee or company limited by shares but with special conditions and are intended specifically to ensure that the profits and assets of the company are used for the public good, even when managed for (limited) profit.
A charity is a nonprofit organisation that meets stricter criteria regarding its purpose and the method in which it makes decisions and reports its finances. For example, a charity is generally not allowed to pay its Trustees. In England and Wales, charities may be registered with the Charity Commission. In Scotland, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator serves the same function. Other organizations which are classified as nonprofit organizations elsewhere, such as trade unions, are subject to separate regulations, and are not regarded as "charities" in the technical sense.
PROBLEMS EXPERIENCED BY NPOS
Capacity building is an ongoing problem experienced by NPOs for a number of reasons. Most rely on external funding (government funds, grants from charitable foundations, direct donations) to maintain their operations and changes in these sources of revenue may influence the reliability or predictability with which the organization can hire and retain staff, sustain facilities, create programs, or maintain tax-exempt status. For example, a university that sells research to for-profit companies may have tax exemption problems. In addition, unreliable funding, long hours and low pay can result in employee retention problems. During 2009, the US government acknowledged this critical need by the inclusion of the Nonprofit Capacity Building Program in the Serve America Act. Further efforts to quantify the scope of the sector and propose policy solutions for community benefit were included in the Nonprofit Sector and Community Solutions Act, proposed during 2010.
Founder's syndrome is an issue organizations face as they grow. Dynamic founders with a strong vision of how to operate the project try to retain control of the organization, even as new employees or volunteers want to expand the project's scope or change policy.
Resource mismanagement is a particular problem with NPOs because the employees are not accountable to anybody with a direct stake in the organization. For example, an employee may start a new program without disclosing its complete liabilities. The employee may be rewarded for improving the NPO's reputation, making other employees happy, and attracting new donors. Liabilities promised on the full faith and credit of the organization but not recorded anywhere constitute accounting fraud. But even indirect liabilities negatively affect the financial sustainability of the NPO, and the NPO will have financial problems unless strict controls are instated.
In the United States, two of the wealthiest nonprofit organizations are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has an endowment of $38 billion, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute originally funded by Hughes Aircraft prior to divestiture, which has an endowment of approximately $14.8 billion. Outside the United States, another large NPO is the British Wellcome Trust, which is a "charity" by British usage. See: List of wealthiest foundations. Note that this assessment excludes universities, at least a few of which have assets in the tens of billions of dollars. For example; List of U.S. colleges and universities by endowment.
Measuring an NPO by its monetary size has obvious limitations, as the power and significance of NPOs are defined by more qualitative measurements such as effectiveness at performing charitable missions.
Some NPOs which are particularly well known, often for the charitable or social nature of their activities performed during a long period of time, include Amnesty International,Oxfam, Rotary International, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Nourishing USA, DEMIRA Deutsche Minenräumer (German Mine Clearers), FIDH International Federation for Human Rights, Goodwill Industries, United Way, ACORN (now defunct), Habitat for Humanity, Family Promise, Teach For America, the Red Cross and Red Crescentorganizations, UNESCO, IEEE, INCOSE, World Wide Fund for Nature, Heifer International, Translators Without Borders and SOS Children's Villages.
However, there are also millions of smaller NPOs that provide social services and relief efforts to people throughout the world. There are more than 1.6 million NPOs in the United States alone.
There are also examples, for instance in Ireland of NGO umbrella organisations bringing about a degree of self-regulation in the NGO sector.
OTHER TERMINOLOGY FOR THE SECTOR
Instead of being defined by “non” words, some organizations are suggesting new, positive-sounding terminology to describe the sector. The term “civil society organization” (CSO) has been used by a growing number of organizations, such as the Center for the Study of Global Governance. The term “citizen sector organization” (CSO) has also been advocated to describe the sector — as one of citizens, for citizens — by organizations such as Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. A more broadly-applicable term, "Social Benefit Organization" (SBO) has been advocated for by organizations such as MiniDonations. Advocates argue that these terms describe the sector in its own terms, without relying on terminology used for the government or business sectors. However, use of terminology by a nonprofit of self-descriptive language that is not legally compliant risks confusing the public about nonprofit abilities, capabilities and limitations.