Nonprofits Are Businesses


Sean Stannard-Stockton


Sean Stannard-Stockton

Sean Stannard-Stockton

One of the most bizarre criticisms of the Giving Pledge is the idea that it will hurt the economy.

For example Forbes columnist John Tamny writes:

‘But while it’s exciting to contemplate the giving nature of Gates and Buffett, if their true desire is to help their fellow man, they should hoard every penny of their significant wealth…

Some will no doubt benefit in the near term, but the removal of limited capital from the productive parts of the economy will ultimately reduce our standard of living, drive up unemployment and make individuals more – as opposed to less – needful of charity.

Conversely, money saved and invested constitutes capital offered to today’s and tomorrow’s businesses. When individuals save, they’re by definition providing capital to entrepreneurs, and the capital formation that results from saving naturally stimulates job creation. Considered in this light, savers and investors are conferring the ultimate benefit on others by virtue of their financial means supporting individuals eager to work.’

Tamny’s underlying assumption is that nonprofits are not productive, that they don’t stimulate job creation and do not enhance the standard of living.

Tamny’s understanding of the nonprofit sector is so misinformed that it is difficult to understand how Forbes editors published his column. It isn’t that Tamny’s opinion isn’t valid, certainly there could be an argument that for-profits produce more value than nonprofits, it is that Tamny seems unaware of the fact that nonprofits are businesses.

Nonprofits employ people, nonprofits buy goods and services from for-profits, nonprofits are an important economic engine of the US economy. In fact, nonprofits are a bigger portion of the economy than many other industries.

Today, I’m happy to share an outstanding video that highlights just how significant the nonprofit economy is. Not many sectors of the economy book over a trillion dollars in revenue and employ 10% of all US workers!

Click here to see the video produced by Philanthropy Reports

Tagged in: Giving Pledge Non-profits

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