What’s in a Name?

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Good Morning All,

Here is something to ponder and mull over as you continue to develop and expand your ideas of business. I have been hearing and also thinking of this concept for a while so hopefully it will begin to catch on and create some needed conversation and buzz. What’s in a name? Well, basically everything. A moniker or name is how we are introduced and known to our sphere. So what’s in a name change? We shall see…

The general name for businesses that are social based organizations or agencies that excel in social services or human service provision are “nonprofits” or “not for profits.” The idea behind that is they generate monetary provisions to their greatest extent to give those provisions back in the form of goods or services. The end result should be an emptying of the coffers so the clients get all they need. Hence, no profits left. Not for profit.

Well, under that definition, without profits, how would an agency or organization expand or even be able to pay their staff well enough to allow them to stay for long periods in a career? Tough decisions. At times, even the name can be scary knowing you are working for a company that doesn’t seek to make a profit. In the scheme of business, a profit is actually needed to survive and adjust over time. But we have been taught or socialized to believe that “nonprofits” should not actually make large profits or any profit at all. Hence, what’s in a name change?

Nonprofits need to thrive and should be considered entities that are allowed to make money but continue to be accountable for the funds they solicit. So how about a name change? I was watching “Katie” this morning in the break room and she was interviewing Adam Braun who started and runs Pencils of Promise (/http://pencilsofpromise.org/). He casually noted that he doesn’t call his organization a nonprofit but a “for purpose agency.” In that name change, he is saying that we not only solicit and make money but we have a purpose for that money.

So perhaps we need to look at how we are defining ourselves and naming our agencies. Do we want to continue to exist on that bubble of saying we don’t want profits or hinting at other names that give us power and purpose? It’s completely up to you. But, what is in a name?


Keith Cradle


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