March 5th, 2007

Non-Profit != Anti-Business


Recently, a friend told me that I sound “anti-business” when dealing with my volunteer/non-profit work. Perhaps writing entry like this (just an example) make me sound like I am against businessman who makes money.

In my last 10+ years, I work in all sort of environment, academic research, non-profit, volunteer public interest, non-government and also the other side, government and yes business. I went from one end to the other end. To say I am anti-business make it as if I dont like money, and believe me, I love free economy and I love money.

I am also involved in many collaborations on opposite ends, government with non-government and profit with non-profit. Projects often needs multilateral partners to succeed so such collaborations are not only unavoidable but important. I don’t see anything wrong either. I often find myself one side or the other.

Projects are successful only if partners in the collaborations feels they are in a win-win situation. A non-profit/government side achieving what it set out to do while on the other side a for-profit company, well, makes money. If the for-profit party don’t make money, then it is just charity/donation, not a partnership.

But when I represent non-profit/volunteer/public interest, I apply a different ideological approach as compared when I am representing my company or business.

In business, I do anything to close the deal (within legal limits of cos), so long it makes money for the company. But when I am on the other side, then the goal, the process and the outcome of the project takes precedence over money. What I would not do is compromising the interest I am representing over money.

The key is to have an open and transparent process to met the project goal with an outcome that serve the public interest AND at the same time allowing the company involved to make money.

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