Research Paper on Non-Profit Organizations
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The Importance of the Third Sector (Non-Profit)
Then third sector of the non-profit sector consists of organizations whose motivation for establishment and existence is not to make profit for the members but to achieve the objectives of the organization. In other words, raising revenue is not considered a problem so long as the revenue is retained within the organization and used for the accomplishment of the objectives of the organization (The Nonprofit Resource Center, 2012). As much as different rules apply for different non-profit organizations in different countries, the requirement that such organizations live out the true meaning of their name by avoiding engaging in profiteering is fairly uniform. Also, such organizations are exempted from paying taxes in most if not all countries. There are different types of non-profit organizations serving at different levels around the world. There are those that have national operations, those with regional operations, and those with global operations. The Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative are some of the most high profile non-profit organizations given the high profile nature of their founders with the former having been established with one of the richest couples in the world and the latter having been established by a president of the United States. This paper will take a brief look at the stakeholders and drivers of the non-profit sector and then make a deeper examination of the important roles that the non-profit sector plays in society. This will be followed by a careful look at the current state of the non-profit sector and a conclusion.
Stakeholders and Drivers of the Non-Profit Sector
The stakeholders in the non-profit sector are many and varied. First, there are the societies that are served by the non-profit sector. These are the clients or the customers, and they are the reason the organizations exist (Powel & Steinberg, 2006). Secondly, there are the staff members who are employed to serve in the non-profit sector who may be volunteers or paid workers. The services offered by these people make the organization function well for the benefit of the clients. The other groups of stakeholders are the founders of the non-profit organizations. These can be individuals or groups of people who come together and decide to establish these entities. Additional stakeholders with a stake in the management of non-profit organizations include the wider communities in which they operate as well as the governments under which they carry out their activities. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community based organizations (CBOs) are the two major pools that provide the organizations that make up the non-profit sector.
The non-profit sector is driven by a number of factors. First, the internal objectives and policy form the backbone set of drivers that run the non-profit sector. These are the internal drivers that can determine the success or failure of a non-profit organization. The other driver is government policy which is often based on legislation. This is an equally significant driver since it regulates taxation, the hiring and service of employees or volunteers, and general operations of the non-profit organization (The Gallop Organization, 1999). The community and the clientele of the non-profit sector also help drive the non-profit organizations. Non -profit organizations can be found in numerous fields. For example there are those whose objective is to support the delivery of technology to different schools around the world especially in the third world where such technology is not easily accessible. There are also those that are in existence for the purpose of combating dangerous diseases such AS HIV/AIDS. The Clinton Global Initiative is one of the most prominent organizations in this category. Other areas where non-profit organizations have focused on include the availing of legal services for abused or disenfranchised groups of people and the conservation of the environment.
The Importance of the Non-Profit Sector
There are several vital roles that the non-profit sector plays. The most important ones include promotion of human health, environmental conservation, protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy, and the promotion of education and social empowerment. Other important roles include employment and career development and promotion of peace.
Protection of human rights and the promotion of democracy
Non-profit organizations are important in that they help in the defense of the rights of people whose political freedom has been limited by authoritarian governments. There are several countries around the world where citizens do not get the chance to enjoy the freedom that is in democratic societies (Douglas, 1987). In such places, there are widespread human rights abuses characterized by unnecessary arrests of citizens who try to raise their voices against despotic and totalitarian regimes. In a world where the state is still the most important player in international politics, the possibility of other states intervening in the internal affairs of other states is remote due to the principal of sovereignty. But in such circumstances, non-governmental organizations are given the green light to operate in such places. The reality that most of the non-governmental organizations form the bulk of the non-profit sector provides the much-needed room for getting to such risky places to not only pressure the forces of oppression into setting people free but also exposing their evils to the rest of the world so that international action by other entities such as the United Nations is possible.
The non-profit organizations that protect human rights and promote democracy carry out a number of functions (National Center for Nonprofit Boards, 2012). For example they educate the citizens of different countries on what to do in the event that they are faced with oppressive actions by their governments. They also educate the citizens on how to be informed participants of the democratic processes in their respective countries. Such processes include voting in referenda as well as in elections. Most importantly, non-profit organizations in the pro-democracy category are responsible for pressuring other states into taking action that is meant to limit support given to regimes that are perceived to be abusing human rights an stifling democracy. Also, these organizations are usually at the forefront in lobbying other organizations such as the intergovernmental bodies where the main one is the United Nation, into taking action that is meant to prevent human suffering as a result of leadership and political failures. There are numerous non-profit organizations that are working to enhance democracy around the world such as the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.
The Promotion of Human Health by the Non-Profit Sector
The non-profit sector is very important in the promotion of human health around the world. Human health is a multifaceted aspect that has proved to be challenging for governments. This has made it necessary for the non-profit sector to move in and help people in need. Non-profit organizations participate in the promotion of health around the world in different ways. First, there are non-profit organizations whose objective is to carry out research that is purely meant to generate new drugs and new solutions to problems associated with diseases. Such organizations employ researchers and scientists who spend enormous amounts of resources in their research effort. The information that such non-profit organizations produce is consumed by different entities such as hospitals, governments, and other organizations. In this category of non-profit organizations one will find research institutions, research foundations, and research centers (Hall, 1987). Secondly, non-profit organizations that promote health can fall into the category of organizations that help in the provision of vital funds that are needed by communities. The organizations also avail the drugs and other equipment that communities need for leading healthy lives. For example the Clinton Global Initiative has been known to avail AIDS drugs to various groups of people around the world (The Clinton Global Initiative, 2012).
Thirdly, there are non-profit organizations in the field of promoting human health whose work is solely advocacy. In other words, all that they do is to push the relevant bodies so that people who are in need of help are given the help that they need. Such organizations make use of information from a variety of sources in order for them to be able to pursue and fulfill their goals. For example before they can advocate for a particular group of people who have health problems, they have to know that such a problem actually exists. They therefore have to access the information of other organizations that are on the ground and in touch with the suffering communities. They also make use of information from medical research institutions that are able to point out locations around the world where certain groups of people are suffering more in various respects and are therefore in need of help.
Environmental Conservation and sustainable development
According to Steinberg (1986), non-profit organizations have also been helpful in the conservation of the environment and the development of sustainable means of living. The enormous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations towards sustainable agriculture fits this description (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2012). There are different ways in which the environment is facing problems. For example logging that is uncontrolled is threatening the lives of rare species of animals and plants around the world. In the process, these activities are posing great dangers to the lives of people who rely on these resources for their livelihoods. Non-profit organizations have taken it upon themselves to challenge governments that are either carrying out the destruction or are watching as the destruction is being carried out by other parties and demanding action. With the advent of global warming that has led to the rise of the seas (Archer, 2006), human life is more threatened by nature more than ever before. This is why non-profit organizations for the defense of the environment have become an integral part of society with their advocacy assuming an even larger role.
The tact that such organizations are not driven by the profit motive means that they have the incentive to confront governments and other entities that destroy the environment without the fear of losing out on business deals (Salomon, 1999). This is a handicap that other governments and business organizations have to deal with that usually limit the level to which they can question some of the actions that destroy the environment especially when the groups behind the actions are business partners. Non-profit organization in defense of the environment are known to be vocal in their challenge to governments and oil companies, opposing drilling and advocating for alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind. They are indeed responsible for the shift that is being witnessed to alternative energy sources.
Promotion of education and social empowerment
Non-profit organizations are very important in the field of promoting education and social development in different parts of the world (Boris, 1999). There are numerous non-profit organizations around the world whose aim is to ensure that children are able to access education. The different facets of education have several non-profit organizations that are working to advance those areas. Science and technology based organizations are particularly popular. Their focus on poor regions of the world has been credited with the advance that has been made in the provision of education to people around the world. Non-profit organizations that help promote education and social envelopment pursue the objective from different ends. Like the non-profit organizations that carry out research in health, there are organizations whose sole objective is to carry out research and lay out the state of education and development in different parts of the world. For example an organization in this category will provide data that shows the number of people in the developed world who are able to attain a high-school level education without any problem. This data is then compared to similar data obtained from the third world. As much as these organizations may not do anything other than present this information to the public, other organizations in the education and social development domain usually take up the challenge and carry out the required advocacy so that governments and other organizations can do the necessary to ensure that people are given access to education and other social amenities.
Other non-profit organizations in this category send professionals in the field of education and social development to specific areas where they help in the establishment of education facilities. Non-profit sector organizations that perform this kind of work usually use funs donated by wealthy well-wishers and the non-profit organization usually operate as trusts or foundations.
Professional Development and Employment
Another crucial role of the non-profit sector is that it provides an avenue through which some people are able to develop their careers and professions. People who work in the non-profit sector can be paid employees or volunteers. For the paid employees, it is a good source of revenue while for both cases it is a good field for professional development. There are numerous people who are offered internships and employment in the non-profit sector upon the clearance f their studies (The Nonprofit Resource Center, 2012). With the prevailing tough economic times that have seen governments fail to measure to the challenge of providing jobs, the non-profit sector especially in private hands has helped absorb some of the qualified people whom the government cannot employ. The expertise and experience that people acquire while working in the non-profit sector is important since it helps them get hired for other jobs once they choose to leave the non-profit sector.
With the bulk of the non-profit sector organizations being the non-governmental organizations that help promote peaceful coexistence among people, there is truth is claiming that the non-profit sector is useful in the promotion of peace. The fact that governments are not politically able to intervene in other states’ territories to bring warring communities together leaves a void that can potentially leads to catastrophes. Luckily, the non-profit sector led by non-governmental organizations usually move in and help mediate the conflicts between the various communities thus restoring peace. In a larger dimension, there are numerous organizations that have invested millions of dollars in research that is focused on various parts of the world and the issues that are pertinent to such parts, and the information that such organizations produce is important in helping deal with such issues. It is the handling of such issues, war being one of them, that results in peaceful coexistence among people. Most importantly, people are able to live peacefully when all the aspects of their lives are attended to. The fact that the non-profit sector has invested its time and money in providing education, healthcare, and prodemocracy incentives to people around the world means that the non-profit sector has been and still is important in peace promotion.
The Current State for the Non-Profit Sector
Gary Snyder (2006) thinks that non-profits have lost their way, but the Non-Profit Resource Center disagrees, and for a good reason, which is, non-profits are doing a good job around the world. During the late 1990s, the non-profit sector gained a lot of traction in their role as champions of equity and social development although with great conflict with some governments. There were frequent clashes between the sector and various governments due to a clash of interests, a scenario that was common among non-transparent governments. Nevertheless, the sector emerged from these tumultuous times and with the increase in information among members of the public, support for the work carried out by the non-profit sector has never been higher. The realization by governments around the world that the non-profit sector is indispensable has been particularly important since this has led to the accordance of the prerequisite support for the non-profit sector by governments. Such collaboration is indeed important if the problems of the 21st century are to be solved with the urgency they deserve. It is therefore justifiable to state that the non-profit sector stands at its best at the moment.
The vibrancy of the non-profit sector is also based on the willingness of eminent personalities to invest their capital in its different forms in the sector. Business magnates and political heavyweights have given their support in cash and kind to the non-profit sector either through indirect support or by direct involvement. The prominent examples are the once richest man in the world, Microsoft owner, Bill Gates who run the wealthiest non-profit, the Bill Gates and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative founded and run by former US president William Jefferson Clinton.
The non-profit sector’s significance in the world cannot be overemphasized. It has been responsible for the promotion of human health in different parts of the world through research and direct provision of medical supplies. The sector also promotes environmental conservation and participates in the protection of human rights. It has also helped in the promotion of democracy in different parts of the world. Also, the non-profit sector is directly and indirectly involved in the promotion of education and social empowerment. Other important roles include employment and career development and promotion of peace.
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