I've committed to operating a values-based business without creating a nonprofit entity. Weird, I know. But here's my thinking:
First, I believe that ethics exist outside of religion. And that everone's decisions are informed by them, whether we recognize it or not.
I believe that--not unlike our two-party political system--the nonprofit/ for-profit binary represents an outmoded way of thinking, serves the interests of a few, and in fact limits our overall capacity to effect social change.
I believe that freedom and responsibility come to us in equal proportions. The way I see it, for-profits currently have great freedom with little responsibility, and nonprofits have great responsibility with with little freedom (churches being the standout exception to this rule.) This structural imbalance results in a real-world imbalance--the effects of which we are all feeling now.
I believe our current paradigm of nonprofit vs. for-profit businesses reinforces trickle-down economics and enables a culture of marketplace impunity. Though nonprofits look (and can be) helpful on the surface, when you view them as part of our larger (and arguably broken) economic system, they can also be understood as the inglorious flip-side of corporate personhood--a partnership with the government for the purpose of doing what allegedly cannot be accomplished by the government and private sectors: treating human beings like human beings.
I worked in nonprofit for just long enough to learn that volunteerism is neither sustainable nor gratifying in the long term and that the charity model undermines the inherent dignity and beauty of human generosity.
So I officially call bullshit. If for-profit businesses weren't fully expected to exploit and destroy what is good and human, nonprofits wouldn't be expected to occupy the high ground and clean up their mess.
So I'll no longer enable a broken system--even from the "good" side. Instead, I'm daring us as consumers to insist on ethical decision making from ALL business owners. Meanwhile, I'll do my best as a for-profit business owner to lead by example.
Because rather than employing a middle man, I prefer to partner directly with you, my community. I trust you and I recognize your wellbeing as connected with my own. If you thrive, I thrive, too.
We're a consumer-driven society, after all. Maybe it's about time we start owning that power.