The link between entrepreneurship and non-profits

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Dr. Randal Pinkett, Chairman and CEO, BCT Partners (Wikipedia/Creative Commons)
By Glenn Townes

It's an age-old adage—sharing is caring and one that entrepreneur and philanthropist Randall Pinkett is quick to repeat when business-owners and others ask him why they should support nonprofit entities. “I believe creating any new nonprofit organization is an entrepreneurial act,” he said. “The challenge we see with many of these organizations is that after they are created, they stop being entrepreneurial.” The mindset of nonprofit founders oftens shifts from just getting started and loses sight of the resourcefulness and entrepreneurial spirit and drive necessary to grow a nonprofit. He added that small business-owners must align themselves with grassroots and community based organizations—including non-profits.

Pinkett, a sought after speaker, author and Rhodes Scholar is the CEO of BCT Partners—a Newark-based and multi-million dollar business management, technology consulting firm. The company was listed as one of the top 100 African American-owned industrial/service companies in 2019 by Black Enterprise magazine. Pinkett along with  Lawrence Hibbert, co-founder and managing partner of BCT were appointed to serve on
the Rutgers University Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development

Council of Urban Entrepreneurs (CUEED.) Pinkett was the keynote speaker at an event
last week at Princeton University in Princeton, NJ, that, among other things, highlighted resources for nonprofit groups. The event was a precursor for upcoming celebrations for Black History Month.  Pinkett added that entrepreneurs must align themselves with grassroots and community based organizations—especially nonprofits.

According to data released last year by the New Jersey Center for Nonprofits, there are more than 34,000 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations across the state. Additionally data from the IRS shows that New Jersey nonprofits collectively spend more than $38 billion annually mostly on goods and services throughout with minority and women owned business enterprises (MWBE'S) throughout the state. Add to the mix that many of the nonprofits are small, start-up organizations, and the need for a healthy, yet strategic and varied alliance with MWBE's is essential. 

Pinkett said a common link between an executive director of a nonprofit and small business owner is an entrepreneurial spirit and a desire to change or have an impact on the world. However, there is a vast difference between an old school and new school meaning of the word nonprofit. For example, an antiquated interpretation suggests that nonprofits are the only type of entities that directly address embedded social or environmental issues. However, contemporary and a millennial explanation suggests that the terms nonprofit and for-profit are only organizational forms. “A social entrepreneur can use either form of organization to achieve social and environmental goals,” he said.
   
Lastly, Pinkett lauded the work and achievements of both nonprofits and MWBE's, as charitable organizations are challenged to do more with less.  “Sometimes the tax exempt status and restrictions placed on nonprofit organization make it difficult for these organizations to be creative,” he said. “Hyper -accelerated change and diversification are fundamental shifts in our society that {nonprofits and entrepreneurs} need to embrace and leverage to build communities and be competitive today and in the future.”

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