Where Will Nonprofit Be 1 Year From Now
Associations are part, with cooperatives and mutuals, of the societal forms of the social economy, which have in common to participate in economic life without seeking profit. They have neither personality nor existence without respecting certain legal forms.
Etymologically, the word association comes from the Latin association, which means “action to bring together.” Find more details about the nonprofit association.
By definition, a nonprofit association is a group of two or more members who implement common means to carry out a specific activity, an activity having a primary goal other than their personal enrichment. Therefore, the disinterested nature of the activity prohibits the distribution of a profit to the partners. But it does not imply that the activity is non-commercial or loss-making: the purpose of the association can therefore be commercial (such as the distribution of fair trade products), and the budget surplus can serve the development of the association. By nonprofit activity, we mean that it can charge for goods or services, but the price must correspond to the payment of expenses necessary for its activities and not to a distribution of profits to its members.
Volunteer groups are an early form of a nonprofit organization that has existed since antiquity. Ancient Greece, for example, had a variety of organizations, ranging from elite clubs for wealthy men (Hetaireiai) to private religious associations and professional associations.
In pre-industrial societies, voluntary associations, such as guilds, were routinely carried out government administrative responsibilities. In medieval Europe, guilds often controlled entire towns. Merchant guilds ensured compliance with contracts through embargoes and sanctions against their members and intervened in the arbitration of disputes. However, by the start of the 19th century, merchant guilds had already largely disappeared. Economic historians have debated the precise role played by these merchant guilds in pre-modern societies and their economic growth.
In the United Kingdom, artisan guilds were more successful than merchant guilds and formed livery companies, which significantly influenced society.
When an association has an international activity, it is called an international non-governmental organization (INGO).
Without becoming lucrative, associations can have varied activities: promotion and practice of activity (sport, manual, cultural, theatre, music, etc.), defense of a category of people (students, handicapped, victims, sick, users of public services, consumers, various professions, etc.), social and humanitarian action (home help, free healthcare, food distribution, first aid, childcare, etc.), a grouping of professionals, running a neighborhood or city, etc.
The major differences between a gainful activity and a nonprofit activity concern
- The actors who benefit from it.
- The interest for which this activity is carried out.
To have a nonprofit within an association, it is necessary that:
- The persons managing and/or administering the association have no economic interest in the association’s operation.
- There is no distribution of the profits of the association.
- Members cannot receive money or goods from the association.
The future of the nonprofit
Commitment to associations is a means of measuring, in States, the notion of the collective; they are a social asset creating a link.
In Haiti, the history of nonprofits dates as far back as 1860, with the concordat between the Haitian Government and the Roman Catholic Church. Their non-governmental social activities were linked to their contacts with foreign institutions. During the 1970s, the number of NGOs grew due to the international community’s involvement in the country and the country’s internal political and economic situation.
In 2015, the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation estimated that approximately 10,000 nonprofits, excluding associations and foundations, were operating in Haiti; this created a class of its own, the “NGO Class.” According to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, in 2018, there were approximately 25,000 registered Associations in Haiti. Of course, this figure has shifted over time, but an accurate estimate is difficult to obtain due to a lack of data.
We should also consider the time saved by all of the technologies used in daily tasks. However, one might worry that in a society where individualism appears to be on the rise, associative commitment will dwindle. And we might even fear that the new links, new modes of communication, our networks of contacts (family, friends, relations), with whom we can communicate almost instantly, creating new mini-universes, will have a negative impact on associative commitment, but this is not the case. Given the arrival of these massive social networks, all of this is reassuring. Many of us are members of one or more social networks. We have both real and virtual associations there at the same time.
While some associations can operate on a very small budget or even almost entirely on membership fees, others cannot exist without funding, and for some years, budgetary constraints have forced local or to reduce staff, putting certain essential activities at risk. We have yet to acknowledge the work of locally-led organizations. Where will nonprofits be in a year’s time? To be honest, the future of nonprofits in Haiti is bleak; there is so much work to be done that requires a new frame of thought and action, but will we achieve sustainability?
Finally, for the future of the associative world, even if we have the impression that individualism is more present than it was fifty years ago, this has no bearing on commitment. Personal investment in civic engagement is not waning, which gives us hope. What is optimistic about our sector is that women are more involved in community life than men.