What is the Not-For Profit Difference?

Our nation’s not-for-profit housing, community service and long-term care providers are on a mission. Their objective: to provide the highest quality and most compassionate care to those they serve. The good news for older people, persons with disabilities, their families and the entire aging-services profession is that they are succeeding.

At a time when not-for-profit aging-services organizations are under intense government and media scrutiny, not-for-profits are showing by example that there is a difference when it comes to quality.

By continuing a tradition of mission-driven, consumer-centered management and competent, hands-on care, not-for-profits set the standard in the continuum of housing, care and services for the most vulnerable Americans.

Mission-Driven Values

Not-for-profit organizations manage their financial resources in accordance with their missions. Many of these housing and service providers were founded by faith-based and civic groups of rich tradition, and their long-standing values are reflected in their governance and management.

They are not driven by daily pressure to increase their “bottom line” for owners, investors or shareholders. The pressure to make a profit is felt the most by the consumer, due to an inevitable array of cost-cutting reductions in staffing, services, supplies and overall quality.

Quality, not earnings, is the barometer of a not-forprofit organization’s efforts. All proceeds in a not-for-profit are reinvested in improving the physical environment, serving more people, offering more and better accommodations and services and, ultimately, fulfilling the organization’s mission.
Claire Gaudiani (Yale University), author of The Greater Good (2003), often speaks of generosity within the American culture. Translating our mission-driven, not-for-profit values into policies, procedures and daily operations is clearly an enduring example of generosity in action.


Not-for-profit organizations are accountable to voluntary boards of directors, who donate their time and talent to ensure that ethical management, financial integrity and quality services are maintained. Not-for-profit finances are always open for public inspection; with such information readily available on the Internet, the information is literally at our fingertips.

Volunteer board members also have their fingers on the pulse of evolving local community needs, thereby bridging internal and external communities. Not-for-profits have a responsibility to be active, contributing members of their localities. Social accountability opportunities and measures continually help not-for-profits not only to identify but also to exercise leadership in meeting local community needs.

We all desire compassionate, knowledgeable and dedicated staff overseeing the needs of our loved ones. Not-for-profit organizations recognize that staff satisfaction and commitment are related to having sufficient numbers of staff, fair wages and benefits, flexibility when needed, continuing education/growth opportunities and an environment of respect.