“I work for a non profit.”

overhead, Dan Pallotta, Charity Defense Council
Dan Pallotta's ad campaign to get people "over" overhead.

The topic of renaming the non profit sector came up a lot at the Washington State Nonprofit Conference last Friday. That’s because Dan Pallotta, author of Uncharitable and shaker-upper-of-all-things-traditionally-nonprofit, gave the keynote. He’s the guy who pointed out that, in Latin, non profit means “non progress” and that that’s a pretty lame name for a group of people hell bent on making progress on a better world.

While we continue the hunt for a better name for the non profit sector–one that might actually stick so people would actually change behavior and stop saying it–I’ve got a suggestion.

People who work in the for profit space don’t say, “I work for an S-Corp/C-Corp/LLC/etc.” They say, “I work for a bank.” or “I’m in IT project management.” or “I build websites.”

Why do those in the ‘for purpose’ space, as Pencils for Purpose Founder Adam Braun would say, start with, “I work for a nonprofit. We [insert blurb about what you do]”? Why do we feel compelled to preface our answer by clarifying our tax status?

Taking out the tax status reference would be a giant step toward being known for what we do and why we do it, rather than how the IRS refers to us.

That can only be good, right?