For Profit and Beyond

Why might business be attracted to the idea of collaboration? Grantmakers and nonprofit grantees point out that for-profit businesses work from a range of motivations, and that it makes sense to try to understand the norms of the company or industry you’re trying to engage. Notes one experienced funder, “Some nonprofit organizations approach businesses from a profit perspective, arguing, for example, that the company is missing an untapped opportunity to sell products and services. Some are taking a larger view of why firms may have more than a profit motivation — some reason to become involved in the well-being of their communities.” Briefly, people in business often align their decisions about social engagement with one of the following viewpoints:

  • Maximize profits. As economist Milton Friedman put it, “The social responsibility of business is to make a profit.”
  • Do no harm. Maximizing profits is a priority, but so is the social impact of a company’s actions.
  • Two bottom lines. The best business opportunities generate both social and financial returns.
  • Maximize stakeholder returns. Actively pursue the interests of workers, communities, and the environment, along with shareholder profits.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by Candid Learning for Funders using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Working with the Business Sector.