Nonprofit or Non-profit
The not-for-profit business model is gaining ground worldwide, especially in the context of charity. So too is the debate surrounding the term non-profit. Mainly, is it non-profit or nonprofit? Clearly, the debate is a hot one, as there are varying opinions even in well-established dictionaries; whereas the Oxford English Dictionary uses the hyphenated version, the New Oxford Dictionary of North America recognizes the unhyphenated. Likewise, legal materials and entities in the United States seem to use the terms synonymously, including state corporation statutes and the IRS.


Non-profit or Nonprofit: Failing to Reach Consensus


Clearly, there is no global consensus. That said, the question remains whether there is some lingering significance in the disparity. Practically speaking, the many organizations and businesses that use the term do so interchangeably, which indicates there is no real difference. Directly questioned, the people at AskOxford, an email interface for addressing the OED, noted the use of the hyphen in the OED as a traditional respect for the term as originally developed, while the “new” American version has more quickly accepted the term as nonprofit.

Technically, however, there seems to be a rather clear and definite solution. Grammarians would likely argue that use of the term in it’s hyphenated form indicates its placement as an adjective, describing a following noun. For example, the non-profit business model is growing in its popularity. In its unhyphenated form, the term is used as a noun. Together, they could be used as follows: the non-profit business model is used as a foundation for many of the nonprofits across the globe.

Practically or grammatically, the terms are still taken in reference to the same idea. Neither term, however, means that the organization behind the term doesn’t make a profit. Rather, a non-profit organization, or a nonprofit, reinvests its profits in the organization or company.

– Herman Watson

Sources: Grammarist, Idealist
Photo: Ngoc Ho

In the village of Thanapara in Bangladesh, the Thanapara Swallows Development Society is creating fair-trade products in an effort to better develop social and economic situations for the poor. In 1973, the society was founded as part of the Swedish organization The Swallows. It has been a fully operational and independent non-profit since 1999.

The Society oversees many empowering projects spanning different areas such as agriculture, education, fair-trade production, health care, human rights, micro-credits, training and sanitation. The goals of these projects are to improve self-sufficiency for people in the area.

Their handicraft program has been around since the Society began, and was globally recognized as a guaranteed fair-trade organization in the Star Business Report in February of 2016. The elements of fair-trade encompass, “creating opportunities for economically disadvantaged producers, transparency and accountability, no child labor, women’s economic empowerment, and freedom of association.”

The program uses local materials and employs around 250 people, both women and men. They have 168 permanent producers with additional temporary producers, totaling nearly 200. Processes of the handicraft program include dying, embroidery, sewing, weaving, and designing. All of the fabric is 100 percent organic cotton. Some of the products the Society creates for sale include fabrics, bedding, pillows, wall hanging, scarves, bags, and clothing. Creations produced by the Thanapara Swallows Development Society can be purchased at their showroom in the village but also through companies abroad.

The garments are predominately exported and sold in Japan and many countries across Europe. The Society has many well-known customers including People Tree, a U.K. “fair-trade pioneer” within the fashion industry featured in the 2015 documentary film True Cost, which shows the commonly unseen aspects of the fashion industry on people and environments around the world.

Through buying fair-trade items, consumers have the ability to fight global poverty through their regular purchases. Efforts, such as those of The Thanapara Swallows Development Society, allow consumers to gain the power to improve the lives of others.

Shannon Elder

Photo: Flickr

When Communication Really is Key; How a New Program Could Reconnect the Supply Chain and Keep Health Care Clinics Stocked
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), out of the close to the 1 million health centers in the developing world 40 percent of them are stocked out of essential supplies or medications.

In some countries, people walk three days to reach the nearest health clinic only to learn that they are out of stock of their medication. At the same time, health workers admit that they have life saving medications gathering dust and expiring on their shelves because their patients do not need them.

Reliefwatch is a platform for heath care organizations in the developing world to track the supplies in clinics and pharmacies. All clinics need to partake in Reliefwatch is a basic cellphone, which most clinic workers already own. The program involves no new hardware or installations and because all it requires is workers to punch in their inventory numbers into the cellphone, the training process is fast and simple.

Reliefwatch’s method is simple. An automatic call is sent to participating clinics whose staff enter their supply and medication inventories when prompted (Reliefwatch uses multilingual support systems). All the collected data is stored in their cloud system making it available in real-time anywhere in the world.

The information collected through Reliefwatch allows suppliers and NGOs to more accurately distribute medical supplies and medications. So instead of blindly shipping out supplies to clinics every three weeks, suppliers can effectively re-stock clinics based on their needs.

Daniel Yu, the founder of Reliefwatch, says his nonprofit has reduced stock-outs to 10 percent of current levels. Suppliers are more aware of which clinics need which drugs and facilities that have excess items can give them to clinics in need of them.

Reconnecting the supply-chain has a powerful effect. Suppliers can feel confident that their provisions are reaching places that need them, clinics and health care workers can adequately serve their patients and patients can depend on their medication being available when they need it.

Brittney Dimond


Sources: Next City, Relief Watch
Photo: Flickr

Soles for Souls
Soles4Souls was founded in 2006 and is based in Nashville, Tennessee. It is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to providing clothing and shoes for the poor. It works in collaboration with local and global partners in the distribution of clothing and shoes, and provides micro-enterprise programs by creating jobs in disadvantaged communities.

Soles4Souls collaborates with various community partners, supporting them through organizational resources. Community partners include homeless shelters receiving shoe donations, women’s shelters receiving business wear donations and inner city hospitals receiving clothing donations. Collection and circulation of wearable donations, as well as providing micro-enterprise programs, are the organization’s focus.

There are two methods of collection that Soles4Souls utilizes. It provides clothing and shoes that are discontinued, floor models, non-marketable overstocks and returns from retailers in the United States and other countries. It also provides clothing and shoes that are collected from individuals, educational centers, faith-based organizations and other corporate partners.

Upon being collected, the items are shipped to designated micro-enterprise businesses in different countries. The organization then contracts with private and nonprofit organizations to provide business resources as support. These methods introduce additional streams of income, and the overall objective is to create self-sustaining opportunities in poor communities.

This initiation of micro-enterprise activities adheres to the Millennium Development Goals in terms of eradicating poverty. On the United Nation’s website, the goal outlines the ability to “achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people.”

Creating micro-enterprise programs in poor communities is a main focus of Soles4Souls. It believes these programs are key components for the social movement to promote social change. It aims to assist communities by providing sustainable jobs to impoverished people through business start-up opportunities. Soles4Souls states, “The concept itself is simple, an embodiment of the old saying, ‘Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day; give him a way to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime.'”

Additional areas of interest include responding to natural disasters and orphanages by providing clothing and shoes. Soles4Souls has a “ready-inventory” in order to provide resources to disaster areas. In recent years, it has sent inventory to Hurricane Katrina victims. Orphanages in Central and South America, including Haiti, Costa Rica, Honduras, Guatemala and Tanzania, receive recurring resources in order to help with school uniforms and other essentials.

Soles4Souls aims to impact the 1 billion children who lack basic necessities like shoes and running water.

Erika Wright

Sources: Soles4Souls, UN
Photo: Flickr

Helping Hand for Relief and Development
Ninety percent of the Helping Hand for Relief and Development’s (HHRD) funds are spent on the programs and services it delivers. HHRD is a nonprofit based out of Detroit, Michigan and prides itself on being known as a group of “Muslims for Humanity.”

The organization responds to emergencies and disasters all over the world with a focus on those living in poverty. Apart from disaster relief programs, HHRD also works on long term projects including economic empowerment, livelihood, orphan and widow support and skills development.

Founded in 2005, the HHRD believes in the Islamic principle of helping those who are in need. The organization works to strengthen the human condition regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity. Their core values seek to recognize the innate worth of all people, ensure equity and justice, increase transparency and advocate mutual respect.

In the event of a natural disaster, HHRD provides food, clothing and medical relief to the troubled area. It does not simply come in to provide relief and then leave once the chaos of the disaster has been subdued. Following a catastrophe, the nonprofit supports physiotherapy and donates artificial limbs for victims in need. It rebuilds homes and schools in affected areas, as well.

It also sponsors rehabilitation centers, supports home construction and contributes to career programs. The organization has scholarships available for students in need. Apart from direct contributions, HHRD also raises awareness through campaigns such as its walk for tuberculosis.

Partnering with organizations ranging from small community support groups to international relief programs, HHRD is funded predominately by private donors. In addition, it receives funding from big names including the World Food Program and the World Health Organization. Corporations such as Microsoft serve as match partners, agreeing to match HHRD’s private donor gifts.

This nonprofit works all over the globe—particularly in areas considered under the poverty line, such as Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

With the current events surrounding ISIS and other terrorist organizations, the religion of Islam often gets unfairly labeled as a violent religion. HHRD’s mission and life-altering work is the perfect example to prove the negative stereotype wrong.

– Caroline Logan

Sources: HHRD, Charity Navigator

Photo: Helping-hand-online

A hundred million people are estimated to be homeless in the world and the number is only growing bigger with the rise and fall of economies. It is estimated that there are another 100 million “hidden homeless” worldwide, a number which takes into account those living in abandoned houses, cars, or houses and apartments with little to no furnishings.

Dr. Mark Bergel, now deemed a CNN Hero, founded his organization after noticing the very few furnishings in the houses of those struggling to make ends meet.

Bergel started his journey as a professor at American University and eventually took on his vision to help others as a full time job. He founded an organization called A Wider Circle in 2001, a nonprofit devoted to furnishing the homes of families living in poverty, free of charge.

Since it’s founding, A Wider Circle has furnished the houses of over 125,000 people, but Bergel’s mission does not stop there. He is also committed to providing an education for those who have asked for one.

Managers from the Greater Washington Area’s homeless shelters mentioned to Bergel that an education in “life skills” and how to cope with stress would be highly beneficial for the shelters’ frequenters.

So that is just what Bergel did.

He incorporated educational programs into A Wider Circle’s mission to help lift adults and children out of poverty by communicating the importance of life skills and helping to adjust the “whole person.”

“I want to help create the change that will enable people to rise out of poverty and enjoy the freedom and independence afforded to others. Poverty is a human problem, and human beings will solve it,” Bergel explained.

After many community service trips, Bergel came face to face with the truth that many people living below the poverty line often lived without beds, tables and couches. Bergel stated that “most apartments had nothing but a chair… There was nothing that would give these people a sense of hope, [or] a sense of dignity.”

With new furnishings and one less issue to worry about Bergel hopes to give families room to breathe and the ability to start fresh.

Currently, A Wider Circle has two full warehouses complete with donated furniture, toys, clothes and clean sheets. Families are able to stop in and choose what they need from the selection.

Since donating his own bed in 2008, Bergel has been sleeping on his floor or couch. He says he intends to do so until every family in the United States has enough beds for each family member.

Bergel’s foundation is not only helping people in the U.S. to live easier lives, but he is also bringing attention to a global issue — the “hidden homeless.” By helping the lives of the “hidden homeless” in the U.S. Bergel is one step closer to addressing this issue on a global scale, and by publicizing his work, we are one step closer to inspiring others to follow his lead.

– Becka Felcon

Sources: CNN, A Wider Circle
Photo: Brown University

Most people would never think to pack a stethoscope or a package of rulers for their vacation. Unless they are a doctor or a teacher, these items may not even be things they own, but a non-profit organization known as Pack for a Purpose is asking international travelers to find a little more space for items like these in their suitcases.

By coordinating with local tourism agencies and hotels, Pack for a Purpose compiles a list of basic medical and educational equipment needs that travelers can easily squeeze into their bags when they travel abroad.

Some of these supplies are simply for recreation like deflated soccer balls, and others, like blood pressure cuffs, are essential instruments for quality medical treatment in impoverished nations.

Founded by retired schoolteacher, Rebecca Rothney, Pack for a Purpose has provided needed school and medical supplies to thousands around the globe. They have been able to do this simply by connecting travelers with a little extra luggage space to relief and aid programs all over the world.

On Pack for a Purpose’s website, a map directs travelers to different regions and shows them what hotels and tourism groups participate in Pack for Purposes exchanges so that charitable travelers can choose their destinations based on local needs.

In a recent, radio interview with WUBR’s Here and Now, Rothney describes her earliest experiences bringing supplies to schools on the African continent. In one of these stories, Rothney describes how a package of rulers nearly brought a school’s principal to tears.

Pack for a Purpose’s contention is ultimately that small efforts to support struggling communities can have tremendous impacts. In fact, many people don’t realize jut how powerful a device like a stethoscope can be for a local clinic, and in part that is because of how commonplace they are in the developed world.

In the four years of its operation, Pack for a Purpose has delivered over 16,000 kilos of supplies worldwide. The truly remarkable thing about this number is that it was all done by individual effort. Travelers from all different backgrounds and origins who simply made a little extra room in their bags have, in doing so, made a measurable difference in thousands of lives.

– Chase Colton

Sources: Here and Now, Pack for a Purpose, Boston Globe
Photo: Forbes

Ever wonder how large charities can get and how much they can impact the world we live in? Charity Navigator has provided a glimpse into the top ten enormous charitable organizations that operate today. The ranking scale they use is out of 70. Here is a look at the top three.

  1. United Nations Foundation: UNF comes in at 69.04 on the overall charity scale. Working to connect citizens around the world to the United Nations, UNF provides fiscal services for the programs that the United Nations offers. It is also the main advocacy and support system for the United Nation’s ideas and beliefs. The total revenue of the charity comes in at $192,737,803.
  2. The Conservation Fund: The Conservation Fund comes in at 69.32 on the overall charity scale. Dedicated to protecting important pieces of American land, such as historical landmarks, parks, and reservations, CF has saved more than 7 million acres of land across the nation. The total revenue of the charity comes in at $242,376,138.
  3. Direct Relief: The highest rated charity on Charity Navigator comes in at 69.91, a nearly perfect score. Direct Relief works to improve health worldwide through programs, emergency preparations, disease awareness, and the improvement of health systems. The total revenue of the charity comes in at $405,035,176.

It is interesting to view just how large the top three charities are and the immense impact that these charities have. Without the amount of money they raise and the support they provide, it would be a very different world we live in today.

– William Norris

Sources: Charity Navigator United Nations Foundation The Conservation Fund Direct Relief
Photo: Direct Relief

What Does BRAC USA Do?
BRAC USA is part of the largest international development program in the world, BRAC, which aids the world’s extreme poor through sustainable solutions to poverty. Though the program focuses on an American audience, its effect is felt globally. By raising awareness in the United States and other developed nations, BRAC USA allows Americans and others to invest in their own future, as well as the futures of those in extreme poverty.

BRAC is an international development organization that focuses on alleviating poverty and issues related to poverty in 11 developing nations across the globe. Their organization model concentrates on empowerment of the poor through local, community-based programs, such as “barefoot lawyers,” a project that increases awareness legal rights and delivers services to the doorsteps of the poor. This program helps impoverished individuals recognize and defend their legal rights, including vital property rights.

Most important to its continued success, the international organization takes an approach mindful of establishing self-sustainable programs to better equip target communities, both women and farmers, to continue to address the causes and symptoms of extreme poverty and take matters into their own hands. The organization’s micro-financing program offers micro-loans to women to promote economic entrepreneurship in local communities and revitalize local economies, while also addressing issues related to gender inequality.

BRAC USA, a sub-group of BRAC, reaches out to Americans to encourage support for the global program in three ways: public education, strategic and program services, and grant-making. In the context of public education, the United States-based BRAC branch employs social and traditional media, as well as speaking engagements and word of mouth initiatives to increase American awareness of global poverty and the organization’s work. Some of the strategic and program services supported by BRAC USA include assistance with design and implementation of international development projects in developing nations, alongside enabling access to financing that makes these projects feasible. This assistance also takes the form of grants, made possible by the American program.

Programs like BRAC USA that encourage sustainable development in developing nations actually give back to developed nations, like the United States. By promoting development abroad, the program increases the likelihood that target nations will foster a market for developed-world goods. That is, by creating sustainable markets, we also create sustainable consumers that are historically proven to direct their newly-acquired purchasing power toward the nation providing initial development aid. To encourage investment in our own economy, we have all the more reason to encourage market development and a sustainable economy in developing nations abroad.

– Herman Watson

Sources: BRAC USA, The Borgen Project

A Look at Lutheran World Relief
Lutheran World Relief has been offering emergency aid to people around the world for more than 60 years. The group formed in the aftermath of World War II, which rendered an estimated 20% of Lutherans homeless. In response to this need, 20 Lutheran churches in the US organized themselves to send aid to their fellow church members.

Most of the aid in that initial period went to Germans and Scandinavians, but LWR founders soon came to believe that they should distribute aid to people regardless of their religious affiliation. In the decades immediately following World War II, the organization sent emergency aid to the Middle East, Hong Kong, Korea, and Bangladesh. Currently, they reach out to people needing emergency help on nearly every continent.

Since then the mission of LWR has evolved even further from providing aid for emergency food, shelter, and medicine, to implementing a comprehensive sustainable development program. The organization now works to address needs in a number of areas, including health, agriculture, and the environment. In pursuing that mission, LWR regularly:

  • Helps farmers learn about new techniques and gain access to microcredit loans.
  • Partners with local communities to dig wells to provide clean water.
  • Educates people about malaria and other infectious diseases.
  • Encourages civic participation by fostering grassroots community organizations to help marginalized groups communicate effectively with their governments.

In addition, the groups on the ground emergency programs are designed to continue recovery efforts long after disasters strike.  LWR is committed to helping afflicted communities build resiliency and recover for the long-term.

Over the years, Lutheran World Relief has earned respect around the world for their efforts.  The group has one of the highest ratings from the site, which rates organizations for their transparency and efficient use of donations. To learn more about Lutheran World Relief, or to donate to the organization, visit

 – Délice Williams

Sources: LWR, Charity Navigator
Photo: Lutheran World Relief