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This blog was inspired by discussions with a number of friends and colleagues, scattered about the sectors and the world, about the overlapping spheres of profit and mission.  Its name was inspired by Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, who described a new era of “sector agnosticism” among foundations and grantors.  It plucked a string for all of us, as we had struggled to describe the ambivalence of our generation of professionals and philanthropists toward the traditional divides that have demarcated the ways we approach problem-solving.

Philosophically grounded in my own agnosticism as to whether the private or public sector is best suited to build a better world, this blog draws on my professional background as an attorney and consultant for mission-based ventures.  In it I explore questions at the intersection of law and social enterprise and, hopefully, provide insight into the issues encountered by for-profit and non-profit entrepreneurs alike as they establish and scale their ventures.  Welcome!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Pat permalink
    December 30, 2010 10:45 am

    In reality there is no such thing as a nonprofit because people have wrongfully attributed objectives of a business to the purpose of a business. What businesses do with the funds they secure has little or nothing to do with whether or not there is a surplus, or even enough funds. That is irrelevant to the identity of profit, its definition, the methods by which it is brought about, or the manner in which it is accounted for.

    Philanthropy is the label that works to convince society that businesses are benevolent and therefore should not be taxable, rather than self serving, and therefore, taxable.

    In reality, all business is self serving, or they would cease to exist.

    Identifying the nature of profit, what it is, and how it comes about is essential to fair taxation, and to an appreciation of how society makes itself successful or a failure.

    No one wants to be taxed, and the fewer who are taxed creates the burden of taxation on everyone who is taxed. Tax shifting is among the oldest philanthropic frauds known to mankind beginning with the Vatican around the birth of Christ if not before. The ability to accumulate tax free funds is the free trade that all desire, not just nonprofits.

    In a normally productive society, however, that is not possible if fair taxation is the objective of social management. Have and have not societies function on the principle that some who have will benevolently give to others who don’t. But, in order to sustain that equation, increasing numbers of haves and have nots must be a part of that equation. Documenting benevolence is never done nor required. That flaw provides the siphoning of benevolence funding to reach its highest form of self enrichment – self dealing under the guise of benevolence.

    If benevolence was the objective, society would not need money, and could simply barter goods and services. The addition of currency necessitates the interaction of trade and accounting in order to track the receipt and distribution of funds – used for whatever purpose they are used for, to build business, to buy goods, to gift, or trade, or to store and hoard. Anything other than trade siphons funds from the economy into the private pockets of those with access to funds, whether taxable or tax free.

    Defining profit is the kindest act any society can do to achieve any measure of equality among peoples who must live with the decision of who is taxable and who isn’t.

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