EXERCISE: BEING A MEDIA NONPROFIT
Learn more about the real-life logistics of being a media nonprofit.
One of the most common questions students have about nonprofit models is how they are different from a for-profit company. In both cases, an organization needs to make more in revenue than it spends. However, there are differences in that:
- The organization’s mission and purpose are more important than profit.
- Ownership and leadership are different. (Unlike a business, no private person can own a nonprofit–they are led by a board of trustees or board of directors.)
- Any excess income at a nonprofit is not distributed to shareholders or owners, but rather reinvested in the organization’s operation.
- When a nonprofit is a 501(c)(3), it may be exempt from certain taxes and it may also offer its donors the opportunity to make tax-deductible donations.
- A 501(c)(3) can’t attempt to influence legislation or political campaigns.
The Balance does a great job of answering the question “How Is a Nonprofit Different from a For-Profit Business?”
To learn more, read the IRS’ requirements in order for an organization to be tax-exempt as a 501(c)(3).
Then, pick a nonprofit news organization. Locate its 990, a public form nonprofits must file annually. (Guidestar is one place to search for 990s.)
What does the organization’s 990 tell you about their annual revenue and expenditures?
Bring a media nonprofit founder into your class.
Have students interview them and complete a profile of the nonprofit explaining their revenue sources and budget.
Thanks to the community of practice teaching Media Innovation & Entrepreneurship for these exercise suggestions.
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- Joanne Fritz, "How is a Nonprofit Different from a For-Profit Business," The Balance, April 3, 2017, https://www.thebalance.com/how-is-a-nonprofit-different-from-for-profit-business-2502472. ↵
- "Exemption Requirements Section 501(c)(3) Organizations," IRS.gov, https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/charitable-organizations/exemption-requirements-section-501c3-organizations. ↵
- Guidestar, http://www.guidestar.org/search. ↵