Benefit of non-profit organizations to Nigeria’s economic development

Benefit of non-profit organizations to Nigeria’s economic development

Monday, December 21, 2015 2:52 pm


Dada Adefolami:

Dada Adefolami:

Dada Adefolami

What is a not-for-profit organisation?
The word non-profit means “not conducted or maintained for the purpose of making a profit,” Merriam-Webster Dictionary. A non-profit organization is an organization that uses its surplus revenues to further achieve its purpose or mission, rather than distributing its surplus income to the organization’s shareholders as profit or dividends. This is known as the distribution constraint. The decision to adopt a non-profit legal structure is one that will often have taxation implications, particularly where the non-profit seeks income tax exemption, charitable status and so on.

It would be simplistic to assume that any organisation that does not pursue profit as an objective is a not-for-profit organisation. This is an incorrect assumption, as many such organisations do make a profit every year and overtly include this in their formal plans. Often, they will describe their profit as a ‘surplus’ rather than a profit, but as either term can be defined as an excess of income over expenditure, the difference may be considered rather semantic. Not-for-profit organisations are distinguished from profit maximising organisations by three characteristics.

First, most not-for-profit organisations do not have external shareholders providing risk capital for the business. Second, building on the first point, they do not distribute dividends, so any profit (or surplus) that is generated is retained by the business as a further source of capital. Third, their objectives usually include some social, cultural, philanthropic, welfare or environmental dimension, which in their absence, would not be readily provided efficiently through the workings of the market system.

Types of not-for-profit organisations
Not-for-profit organisations exist in both the public sector and the private sector. Most, but not all, public sector organisations do not have profit as their primary objective and were established in order to provide what economists refer to as public goods. These are mainly services that would not be available at the right price to those who need to use them (such as medical care, education, museums, art galleries and some forms of transportation), or could not be provided at all through the market (such as defence and regulation of markets and businesses). Private sector examples include most forms of charity and self-help organisations, such as housing associations that provide housing for low income and minority groups, sports associations (many football supporters’ trusts are set up as industrial and provident societies), scientific research foundations and environmental groups.

Corporate form
Not-for-profit organisations can be established as incorporated or unincorporated bodies. The common business forms include the following:
1. In the public sector, they may be departments or agents of government
2. Some public sector bodies are established as private companies limited by guarantee, including the Financial Services Authority
3. In the private sector they may be established as cooperatives, industrial or provident societies (a specific type of mutual organisation, owned by its members), by trust, as limited companies or simply as clubs or associations.

A cooperative is a body owned by its members, and usually governed on the basis of ‘one member, one vote’. A trust is an entity specifically constituted to achieve certain objectives. The trustees are appointed by the founders to manage the funds and ensure compliance with the objectives of the trust. Many private foundations (charities that do not solicit funds from the general public) are set up as trusts.

Formation, Constitution and objectives
Not-for-profit organisations are invariably set up with a purpose or set of purposes in mind, and the organisation will be expected to pursue such objectives beyond the lifetime of the founders. On establishment, the founders will decide on the type of organisation and put in place a constitution that will reflect their goals. The constitutional base of the organisation will be dictated by its legal form.

If it is a company, it will have a Memorandum and Articles of Association, with the contents of the latter entrenched to ensure that the objectives cannot be altered easily in the future. Not for-profit organisations that are not companies most commonly have a set of Rules, which are broadly equivalent to Articles of Association.

It is important to recognise that although not-for-profit organisations do not maximise profit as a primary objective, many are expected to be self financing and, therefore, generate profit in order to survive and grow. Even if their activities rely to some extent on external grants or subventions, the providers of this finance invariably expect the organisation to be as financially self-reliant as possible.

As with any type of organisation, the objectives of not-for-profit organisations are laid down by the founders and their successors in management. Unlike profit maximisers, however, the broad strategic objectives of not-for profit organisations will tend not to change over time. The purposes of the latter are most often dictated by the underlying founding principles. Within these broad objectives, however, the focus of activity may change quite strikingly

It is important to recognise that although not-for-profit organisations do not maximise profit as a primary objective, many are expected to be self financing and, therefore, generate profit in order to survive and grow. Even if their activities rely to some extent on external grants or subventions, the providers of this finance invariably expect the organisation to be as financially self-reliant as possible.

As the performance of not for profit organisations cannot be properly assessed by conventional accounting ratios, such as ROCE, ROI, etc., it often has to be assessed with reference to other measures. Most not for-profit organisations rely on measures that estimate the performance of the organisation in relation to:

1. Effectiveness – the extent to which the organisation achieves its objectives
2. Economy – the ability of the organisation to optimise the use of its productive resources (often assessed in relation to cost containment)
3. Efficiency – the ‘output’ of the organisation per unit of resource consumed.

Many service-orientated organisations use ‘value for money’ indicators that can be used to assess performance against objectives. Where the organisation has public accountability, performance measures can also be published to demonstrate that funds have been used in the most cost effective manner

Finally
The management structure of not for-profit organisations resembles that of profit maxi misers, though the terms used to describe certain bodies and officers may differ somewhat. While limited companies have a board of directors comprising executive and non-executive directors, many not-for-profit organisations are managed by a Council or Board of Management whose role is to ensure adherence to the founding objectives. In recent times there has been some convergence between how companies and not-for-profit organisations are managed, including increasing reliance on non-executive officers (notably in respect of the scrutiny or oversight role) and the employment of ‘career’ executives to run the business on a daily basis

The public sector is the part of the economy concerned with providing various government services. The composition of the public sector varies by country, but in most countries the public sector includes such services as the military, police, public transit and care of public roads, public education, along with health care and those working for the government itself, such as elected officials.

Dr. Dada. MBA, PhD CPF Acct. is a Finance / Management Consultant and Certified Forensic Accountant (surajudada@yahoo.com; 08052043855).

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