25. Charity (definition)
Some not-for-profit corporations seem really normal on the outside, but underneath the surface are really pretty weird. Maybe the weirdest of all is something called a charity, or charitable corporation, which in Ground-Up Governance will count as its own separate sector. Charities, to be fair, can be really, really awesome and sometimes do super important stuff. They may even be the only hope we have to save our planet and the people and animals on it. None of that changes the fact that they’re weird. We don’t yet have all the words to fully describe the depth of charities’ weirdness, but we can get started at least.
Charities often do really special things that help people. Beyond the fact that they don’t have to make profit for shareholders, they actually exist to spend money to make people’s lives better. Charities still need to earn money, though, and a lot of their money comes from people just GIVING IT TO THEM. Giving money to a charity is called a donation. Why would anybody do that?? It’s usually a combination of two things. First, people simply want the charity to succeed badly enough that they are EXCITED to give them money, even if they don’t get anything in return. But, second, they DO get something in return! When a person or corporation gives money to a charity, they get to deduct that money from their personal income or profit and not pay tax on it. Now I’m ALMOST positive we won’t talk about tax anymore. But if we do…you know who to call.
Anyway, that’s already pretty weird, right? A corporation that makes money just by having people giving it to them? It doesn’t stop there.
Another way that charities are weird is that even though they have members – with all the authority that comes with the title – there’s no real model to determine who a charity’s members are. The charity just kinda gets to decide. Imagine your for-profit corporation just like went around saying “OK you’re a shareholder now!” I mean it’s not quite that silly, but it’s not far off. And then it turns out that once a person is a member of a charity it’s usually pretty hard to get rid of them! Honestly, once we have more words you should come back to this charity thing and read it again because it’ll only seem weirder once we have a bigger vocabulary.
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