What are the business opportunities for de jure non-profit startup?


Our technical startup - overlooking public finance - must have non-profit badge to claim neutrality and attract community.

What is the financial and business aspect?

  • Can we have other sources of revenue other than donations? Can we sell services?
  • Can we pay ourselves and our employees market rate salaries even from donations?


  • Is there an equivalent of angel and seed investments in non-profits?
  • Is there an equivalent of startup incubator for non-profits?

Non Profit Donations

asked Mar 6 '11 at 09:55
108 points

1 Answer


The only differences between a non-profit and a for-profit company is how the profits are distributed and who owns the company.

In a non-profit, all profit is fed back into the organization to further the mission of the organization. Also, no one owns the non-profit. It sole purpose is to fulfill it's mission. So, when the non-profit folds, it's assets will be transferred to another non-profit.

A non-profit can have other sources of revenues (e.g. sell Girl Scout Cookies) besides donations. You can pay yourselves pretty much the market rate for your services although that can be tricky, depending on how much money the non-profit has.

I know of no investor in a non-profit since you can't own a non-profit and there would be no exit -- thus no point in investing. I also don't know of a startup incubator for non-profits.

You may want to have a for-profit business that has a non-profit foundation that does the audit work or whatever. That would be the only way to actually attract investment rather than donations.

answered Mar 7 '11 at 01:40
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points

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Non Profit Donations