Where is it written that organizations who want to provide charitable work have to be a non-profit? It isn’t. It was 1966 before charities were asked to file returns on their activities and to register with the Minister of National Revenue so that the receipts they issued could be verified. That’s less than fifty years ago so the whole concept of taxable deductions is pretty new in the overall scheme of things. Society in general uses the non-profit approach because “we always have”. Times have changed and so has the nature of charity. There was a time, not that long ago, when women couldn’t vote but that changed and so is the nature of charitable endeavours.
Technology and forward thinking is changing the world of the socially conscious. We now recognize individuals and organizations called “social entrepreneurs“. These types of business minded individuals are not here just to turn their capital into monetary profit (in the traditional sense) or even to necessarily sell a product as we currently understand that term. Part of their existence is based on supporting their community and to assist community programs delivering charitable programs. And they recognize that this can be accomplished outside of the non-profit model. They have a desire and commitment to improve the well being of their community while accomplishing this using a for profit business model.
Now where is the profit in that? Well it is an intangible profit, it is a sense of worth that is food for the soul. It is based purely on the concept of obtaining a “feel good” return on investment. Kevin (Show Me the Money) O’Leary would have a stroke where as Warren Buffett would be doing cartwheels. It is the epitome of a corporate selfless act. And it is being driven by a young entrepreneur using technology.
Enter Michael Lavigne, his partners and OpenForChange. Michael is one of those 30 something individuals who want to make a difference but want a new and modern approach. He’s an entrepreneur and as such represents a paradigm shift in the social conscience of the corporate sector. He has taken his desire to better his community, and the world, by avoiding the pitfalls and threats that many non-profits are faced with by providing a charitable for profit business. He has separated himself from the non-profit forest to being a single point of shade on the open prairie.
Michael and his partners have made giving into a viable business model. In return they get to go home everyday feeling like they have really accomplished something. Their currency, good will.
OpenForChange (OFC) is a business model where investors decide and participate in local charitable events. Their return on investment (ROI), an immeasurable sense of well being. These investors are not interested in the $19 tax write-off they get for a $100 donation. They want to be involved with the charitable needs of their community but in the busy world of today do not necessarily have the time available to commit to ten hours of committee meetings every month. They deal with enough politics in their own work place to have to deal with it on a non-profit board or committee.
Through the philosophy of OpenForChange they can pick and chose when and where they want to be involved. They can make a monetary or time investment (OFC doesn’t like to look at it as a donation because it is an investment) without worrying about being over committed. This is becoming the new face of charitable involvement.
I am going to be watching their development with interest. Until themnif this sounds interesting to you follow their Twitter feed to keep up on their events and I will be filling in more detail as they grow.
Just one man’s opinion!