As mentioned in my earlier blog post, I attended a workshop to on being a Professional Interim Executive Director. The room was full of highly skilled and engaging people and we had very lively discussions.
I was especially struck by the discussion of our language as it relates to “nonprofits” as if they are not valuable because there is no profit. In our culture, value and success are defined by ROI (return on investment). How does one measure value?
Do we define nonprofit success by X number of people served? OR X number of houses built? OR Can we begin to think in new ways and redefine “value”? Can we think beyond output and document unexpected outcomes and the learning that is taking place in addition to outputs?
What about the social value of re-weaving the fabric of the community? When “nonprofit’ organizations keep society functioning they are adding value. When “nonprofit” organizations step in when the private sector or public sector can’t or won’t they are adding value.
And so one member of our cadre suggested that our language needs to be revisited. Instead of calling organizations “nonprofit” we should call them social profit organizations. This naming so resonated with our group that by the end of the session we were all calling them SPOs.
It made me wonder what it would take to introduce this kind of language into our culture so that it becomes mainstream and social profit organizations are seen as equal partners with foundations, corporations, and governments all in services of a greater good to achieve greater than expected outcomes.
This is worth re-thinking!