The costs associated with benefits, salaries, and programs is a ministry’s greatest challenge. A “For-Profit” status is an excellent solution.
A non-profit status is one way to organize a ministry. It creates the opportunity for people to give and provide for ministry and leaders who serve. But, what if that isn’t the path for your ministry? The IRS code gives us guidelines for operating a non-profit organization with the 501(c)(3) status, but that’s not necessarily God’s plan. What if your business or neighborhood is where your ministry will happen and you will earn an income and fulfill your ministry purpose at the same time?
Think about it.
Are you willing to step out of the box and run your ministry differently? What’s wrong with making a profit and giving it to your ministry? That’s exactly what I am suggesting.
Years ago, I was writing grants for urban youth ministries and feeling the stress of seeking money for important programs and supplies. I couldn’t help but remember my corporate management days when I could have written the check myself.
I left the business world for my ministry and now my ministry has come to the business world.
Abandoning the idea of the 501(c) (3) as the best way to establish a ministry, I now favor the “For Profit” status for gifted ministry leaders operating in the business sector.
There are advantages of a “For-Profit” status that can benefit a ministry – that is, if you have what it takes to make a profit, you are a giver, and you don’t mind contributing to Uncle Sam.
Here’s the problem:
- The 501 (c) ( 3) status has limitations on activities such as the organization earning income, political involvement, selling goods, and transferring assets.
- The 501 (c) (3) status is facing political challenges that could likely lead to drastic changes in the future.
- The 501 (c) (3) status creates limitations that can influence the decisions and direction of an organization.
Here’s the Solution:
Establish a business as a financial source for your ministry. Through your business, seek creative ways to support the ministry and earn a good living for yourself and your team. With this method, if you choose to have a non-profit as a totally different organization, your ministry has a hedge against changes in the 501 (c) (3) code, and your personal finances are not bound to the limitations and political uncertainties of the non-profit. You will also be free to enjoy your earnings without the scrutiny of non-profit watch dogs!
As a successful business owner and ministry leader, you can influence your environment while being an example of a Christ Follower. You can stand strong, demonstrating a Biblical lifestyle, in the various corridors of the culture – Media, Education, Finance, etc. You can demonstrate a biblical lifestyle while being active, visible, and involved in the culture. You can thrive in your ministry, in spite of inflation, challenges, and increasing costs. John Maxwell, in his post, How to Tell a Player from a Pretender, writes, “Players finish well, pretenders fade out.” As ministry leaders, it is good to position yourself as a key player in the culture, ministry, and the marketplace. Some people (like missionaries) will need help, because the nature of their ministry is not suitable to make a profit. Other ministries in thriving metropolitan areas are well positioned for a profit and able to offer support beyond their own organization.
All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. (Proverbs 14:23)
Here are 14 reasons why you should consider a “For Profit ” status for your ministry.
- You will be above reproach when asked about your spending. You can respond with something like, “I don’t take an income from the giving, my income comes from my earnings.”
- You can transfer wealth and assets to your children.
- A for-profit status allows you to bless your ministry and other people in any way that God leads you.
- A for-profit status allows you to use all of your abilities, in and out of ministry to support your ministry and your family.
- A for-profit organization is respected in the business world, adding a new level to your ministry opportunities, relationships and influence.
- People don’t decide how much money you make through their giving. You decide how much you make through your earnings.
- The business world offers an unlimited income opportunity.
- You can hire people through your ministry, helping them by empowering them through work.
- You can demonstrate a Biblical lifestyle in the marketplace as you interact through your business.
- You can give more.
- You can enjoy a personal lifestyle without as many questions about personal assets.
- Other ministries that can’t adapt this format need your contributions.
- You can pay your staff well and offer better benefits.
- You will be an excellent ministry example and influence in society.
You can have a non-profit arm of your ministry for missions and other needs such as disadvantaged populations. Your donors will appreciate knowing their giving goes to people in need and programs instead of mostly salaries and buildings. Of course you should be paid for your ministry work, but your contributions or ministry salary, may not be enough in today’s economy. Committing to your ministry gifts, doesn’t mean you have to discard your business ability. Make them both work for God!
Feel free to ask for contributions, even without the 501(c) 3. The benefit of the 501(c)3 is the tax deduction. A tax deduction is a bonus given by the government, not a requirement for a sincere gift from the heart.
In the Bible, Joseph had to learn to be adaptable, in an environment that did not agree with his beliefs. You too, may find that God is creating a pathway for you ministry to flourish in a for-profit world.
All I’m suggesting is that you consider the possibilities.
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