Our Not-For-Profit Organisation
We got a question from Kevin yesterday asking about our work as a not-for-profit organisation, and we thought it was a great topic to raise in a post. Kevin’s question:
What you are doing is great. Quick question is how are you guys able to keep expanding this rapidly while you stay a not for proﬁt organization? Because 600 women is very commendable but obviously as much as you are a not for proﬁt, you still need to stay as liquid as possible and cash ﬂow positive at least to be able to run your daily activities in your pursue to help and train as many women in Nepal. Please correct me if I am going wrong on my analogy.
And our answer:
Despite the label, being a not-for-profit organisation does not mean you can’t make proﬁt. The important distinction is that the profit must beneﬁt the organisation, and cannot be used for the personal gain of an individual or a group of invested people (i.e. shareholders).
Seven Women follows this deﬁnition. We make a proﬁt by selling our products, but the proﬁt is only ever used to further the aims of our organisation.
Let’s break it down. Here's how Seven Women works:
There are two major parts of Seven Women: Seven Women Australia and Seven Women Nepal. Both are registered charities in their respective countries and so must report their activities to the governments in Australia and Nepal.
Seven Women Australia is entirely not-for-profit. We make money from selling products, both at markets and through wholesale buyers who sell our products in their shops. This money goes towards causes such as maintaining existing dependent Seven Women projects and funding future projects. We support the women in Nepal by buying their products from Seven Women Nepal at fair trade prices. This puts the power into the women’s hands; they have control of their products and the pricing, and don’t have to rely on someone else in another country selling their goods.
Everyone who works for Seven Women in Australia is a volunteer, from CEO Steph Woollard to the university students on the stall. We keep our Australian costs as low as possible. The equipment at our regular stall at La Trobe has been paid for through Student Union grants, and much of our other equipment has been donated or discounted by generous supporters.
Seven Women Nepal is a little bit different. Everyone at Seven Women Nepal is Nepalese, and all get a wage. Seven Women Nepal makes money by selling products to Seven Women Australia as well as to local buyers. The money is used to pay the wo men’s fair trade wages, support women who have just arrived at the centres, buy the materials used to make the products, and maintain the self-sufficient centres. The emphasis is always on the people involved, not the money.
Another important factor in successfully maintaining a not-for-profit organisation is outside support. We didn’t always have formal funding; for the first five years we only raised money by selling products. Now we receive donations and funding from individuals and companies that allow us to continue our work. In particular, Cooper Investors and Cooper Family Trust have been incredibly supportive of our projects.
So thank you for the question Kevin. I hope you have found the answers here. In summary, we can make a profit as it goes towards our work rather than towards individuals, and we are helped by generous donations.
This allows us to expand and continue to provide employment, education and empowerment to some of the most vulnerable people in Nepal.