Dear Art League Family,
Letʼs talk about not-for-profit organizations in my Director’s Corner this month. The Art League of Long Island is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization and is exempt from most Federal and most State taxes.
Whenever I interview an applicant for a position at the Art League I always share the benefits of working at the Art League. I tell them who we are, what we do and our mission. I also tell the applicant that the Art League is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization. Then I ask the applicant if they know what it means to be a not-for-profit? Almost always, they are not sure, tilt their head with a questionable look and take a guess that it means we donʼt have to make a profit. I’ve found this to be true regardless of age, education or status. It is especially true of most that have never worked in a not-for-profit.
The truth about not-for-profits, also referred to as nonprofits, does not mean no-profit. All not-for-profits should end up in the black. In the for-profit business world excess funds after expenses are called profits. In not-for-profits, excess funds after expenses are called surplus. Surpluses cannot be distributed to board members or to shareholders as may be a typical practice in a for-profit business. The Art Leagueʼs board is not paid and is purely volunteer and we donʼt have shareholders. However, we are all stakeholders.
Every not-for-profit strives to end its fiscal year with a surplus. A surplus is the result of how well the Art League managed its revenues from operations in relation to its expenses and how its cash flow supports its obligations. A surplus provides the flexibility for the Art League to have a reserve fund to put back into new programs or expand on others. A reserve is a necessary cushion that will be there should emergencies arise. Creating a surplus is always a challenge.
The Art League depends on revenues from tuition, memberships, donations, sponsorships, event and exhibition income and artwork sales. Expenses are overhead, payroll, taxes, supplies, maintenance, contracts, accounting, legal, insurance and unexpected emergencies. The cost of doing business increases year over year while the Art League tries to keep its tuition costs affordable for all to enjoy.
What about those who work in not-for-profit jobs? Most not-for-profit jobs are not plushy. Everyone that works in a not-for-profit realizes that they are wearing many hats. Teamwork is a must and a plus because most of us know we are going to be supporting one another in the day-to-day work that comes our way. The Art Leagueʼs employees are anything but kicked back, blasé and relaxed. We are a team of motivated, energetic, interested and creative people that come to work each day to do our best work to serve the Art League.
I always admire those individuals who choose to work in the not-for-profit industry. They seem to be the kind of people that are willing to work hard, give back and have an attitude of gratitude. Thanks to all of you who tell me you read my Directorʼs Corner and enjoy the stories and information. And thank you for supporting the Art League in so many ways. Wishing you a wonderful spring and summer that we have been waiting for.
Art League of Long Island