Updated: Jul 13, 2019
Have you ever pondered the unintended consequence of charity? I want to start this post with the distinction between 'charity' as a noun (organisation that does good) and 'charity' as a verb (the act of giving to a worthy cause). It's the verb I want to focus on.
Until recently our sector comprised of both noun and verb and both came from the right place, I just wonder about the unintended consequences. As beneficiaries of charity, people with disabilities have yet another label of 'lesser'. With the social reform we know as NDIS, I suspect some long held, unchallenged biases are likely to be put to the test.
As I've mentioned before Rudolf and I had to stop and think hard when we started up Piranha Mowing FNQ. If we went with being a not-for-profit and applied for charitable status with the Australian Taxation Office, the business would have benefited from tax concessions and would be in a position to take grants, gifts and donations to supplement income. These are both compelling and attractive, but what is the message? We are 'lesser than'? We need help?
I don't think so! Piranha is proudly 'for-profit'.
Having said this, there is a question about where profit goes. This seems to be the void in our economical structure. There's a space between not-for-profit and for-profit. What about social enterprises that want to do good, operate profitably and apply social conscious to distribution of profit? I would put both Piranha and GSL in this category.
I have blogged about this before. The niggle came back the other day as my daughter was chatting with her boyfriend. He was regretting his decision to sign up for monthly donations to a charity. He was moaning about the pressure tactics he was under at the time, and his inability to say 'no'. In the moment he thought it would be easier to extricate himself by saying 'yes', and then go home and stop the payments.
What has happened? The charity he was talking about operates in our sector and I felt shame. NDIS gives an avenue of income and operating without such tactics! I know public fundraising raises community profile of a cause, but I have to question the unintended consequence for our sector.
In our little corner of the world, Rudolf and I are seeking a different way. This may put us under a cloud of suspicion about how profits are used; it's something we have to live with. I love the B Corp direction and as soon as GSL is financially strong enough, we will be proudly on board. It's a long way off for Piranha. My hope is that into the future there will a shift in our economy's structure: one that recognises and supports the value of social enterprises in our society.