For the Good Of All

Organizations can make money and “do good” for their communities at the same time while operating in the tax-exempt, charitable sector. That is the central premise of a new book, Community Investors: Making Money While Making Social Change, by Sylvia L. Quinton, with Theodore H. Brown and Tanya Madison Morrison, $27.95, Community Impact Media Group. ISBN; 978-009893052-1-1.

The authors share their strategies for creating organizations and turning them into what they call “magnets for money.” The book is written in clear, easy-to-follow language interspersed with clear and helpful graphics.

“Community Investors,” as they define them, are people or organizations who “operate with the objective of making money and realizing a profit while using strategies reserved for public charities.”

Sylvia L. Quinton and Tanya Madison Morrison began working in nonprofit law more than 25 years ago, providing organizational development and consulting services in the HIV/AIDS field.

“Sylvia was fully convinced that she had found the vehicle through which we could generate viable income to   sustain ourselves, while at the same time create a business and careers in which we could put all of our skills to use,” Morrison writes in her overview of the topic.

Less convinced, Morrison left and spent a decade to develop and sell real estate until the bottom dropped out of the markets in 2008. Once again making a decision between “Wall Street” and the sector she calls “Main Street,” she returned to the social sector with new fervor.

Morrison is an attorney specializing in business development and charitable organizations. She is the founder of 360 Degree Woman, Inc., a personal and professional development company, and founder of the website www.nonprofityriches.com.

Quinton is president and chief executive officer of Strategic Community Services Inc. and is an attorney with expertise in public health policy, tax-exempt charitable organization, business development and economics. She works extensively with social-sector agencies.

The other co-author, Theodora Brown, is an attorney whose specialties include intellectual property counseling, tax–exempt and business law and estate planning

Together, they are on a mission to mobilize community investors who want to help achieve social change while creating wealth for their communities using their 501 (C)(3) tax-exempt status.

Those organizations can be “magnets for money,” the authors argue, because they are set up to receive funding in a number of ways – from government, foundations, philanthropists and private donors. Such organizations can also collect revenue through membership dues, direct-mail requests, bequests, sponsorships, special events, investments, product sales, consulting contracts, book publishing and other avenues.

However, they caution that it is not enough to just set up for organization, apply for tax-exempt status and wait for the money to roll in. Community investing requires having a keen eye for opportunities to meet needs and willingness to do a lot of strategic planning and hard work.

The authors relate their personal journeys in getting involved in the social sector. In sidebars titled “Community Investing in Action,” they also give examples of organizations and individuals who have used their model in to establish thriving organizations. The book also includes various boxes of tips for those contemplating similar efforts.

The authors outline a step-by-step plan to capitalize on opportunities in community investment from identifying areas of need, defining a mission and purpose, selecting a board of directors and filing for tax-exempt status, identifying multiple streams of income to promoting programs through traditional and social media and recruiting volunteers.

According to the book, some emerging fields in which funders are interested in backing community investors include climate change, STEM programs (those that encourage and support the study of science, technology, engineering and math), scientific literacy, sustainable economy, workforce development, retirement services and bereavement services.

Most importantly, the authors explain the laws governing such organizations and offer strategies to run them well and profitably with integrity and accountability.

“Why is it important for Community Investors to build profitable organizations that are money magnets?” the authors ask.  “Because CBOs ‘constantly broke organizations’ cannot invest in communities at a level sufficient to have long-lasting impact. This is not about becoming a money magnet for the mere sake of selfish gain, but to truly create change in a world that cries out for it.”