How do nonprofits stay in business if they aren’t allowed to turn a profit?

Question: "How do nonprofits stay in business if they aren’t allowed to turn a profit?" - Wondering Dear Wondering,

The term “nonprofit” can be confusing. Nonprofits can and do earn a profit—they wouldn’t be able to survive otherwise. However, unlike for-profit businesses, nonprofits don’t distribute their profits to their members as personal income.

Instead, a nonprofit’s excess revenue goes toward furthering the organization’s mission, whether that’s growing the organization, supporting fundraising, or supporting other nonprofits. Additionally, as long as you don’t violate any rules against self-dealing by overpaying yourself or by commingling your personal assets with those of the nonprofit, one of your organization’s expenses can include paying yourself a salary to run the nonprofit.

A nonprofit works to serve a public purpose, as opposed to serving for the financial benefit of a particular person, entity, or corporation. As such, traditional nonprofits are organized around a shared mission, social cause, or community need, and they work to provide some public service.


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