(Published in the Piedmont Business Journal column “Parting Shots”,  Summer 2014)

Recently a friend of mine recoiled when I said a nonprofit is a business. This is a common reaction. Certainly a nonprofit is organized to do good beyond providing for the profit of owners, so therefore the recoil may be understandable. Other than no one taking home any profits however, a nonprofit organization is a business or at least should be operated like a good business.

Lately, more nonprofit entities are coming into existence, all with wonderful intentions. Creating the organization and obtaining tax exempt status is only the first step. There is competition for finite resources and public generosity. This is especially true when the economy has slowed. Who would not rather provide time and dollars to a nonprofit with clear goals; financial transparency; a sound conflict of interest policy; good governing documents; a system of tracking and measuring results; and a firm legal foundation for its financial, contractual and employee interactions?

I have had the pleasure of working with organizations with great purpose and well managed direction to achieve their purpose. In the space remaining, I will draw attention to three great local nonprofit organizations and encourage your support.

The Shop With A Cop Program in Fauquier County operated by Fauquier Cops For Children (FCFC) was organized by volunteers from the law enforcement community to support the youth of Fauquier County. First impressions from childhood stay with us and influence our lives. Too many children have first impressions of law and authority which are negative. As children grow into tomorrow’s adults they have choices to make. They can become productive law abiding citizens or they can go the other way at great costs to themselves and society. The Shop With A Cop Program makes positive first impressions on about 80 children every Christmas. Volunteers raise funds through private donations to take children and teens shopping for Christmas. They are then treated to breakfast with fun social activities, a visit with Santa and gift wrapping.

Hoofbeats to Hope is organized by volunteer equestrians whose mission is to raise awareness of the devastating disease of ovarian cancer. For the past two years, this organization has put on a musical freestyle challenge horseshow as well as a silent auction to raise money for the cause. This year the event is on September 20th. Please visit http://www.hoofbeatstohope.com for more information. Ovarian cancer is an under-recognized threat to women’s health. Over 21,000 women will be diagnosed in 2014 and over 14,000 women will die. It is the 5th leading cause of cancer related death in women but the leading cause of death of the all the gynecologic cancers. Presently, most women are diagnosed after the disease has spread which results in lower survival rates.

Casey’s Place has been created to meet the growing and urgent need for residential care in our community for young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. According to a March 15, 2013 report by The Sage Crossing Foundation, within the next 15 years about 395,000 current U.S. school children diagnosed as autistic will be in need of adult services. The annual cost to governments for their care will increase by 2028 to an estimated $18 billion in current dollars in addition to the cost for adults already in the system today. Such an imposing bill exceeds that of the U.S. Commerce Department and Environmental Protection Agency combined. If a new city were created to house only this new autistic adult population and their care givers, it would be about the size of Louisville, Milwaukee, or Portland (Oregon).

Casey’s Place has been created to provide residential housing and facilities to assist young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities in Fauquier County. It is overwhelming to imagine the cost to our local resources if these needs are not addressed.

The business of nonprofit organizations is serious and important. It is essential to run them well and those who care about the health of their community should care about them.  For more information Email our Office.