Non-Profit vs For-Profit PR

The Difference

Investopedia explains what a non-profit organization is, “Nonprofit organizations don’t pay income tax on the money they earn from fundraising activities or donations. The organization must further a religious, charitable, scientific, literary, educational, public safety, amateur sports or cruelty prevention purpose to qualify for tax-exempt status; it must also provide a public benefit. Examples of nonprofit organizations include churches, hospitals and schools.”

non profit pr

On the other hand-

The Law Dictionary defines a for-profit company as, “A business that only  wants to make profit and has no community ties. It can be a store or restaurant just to name two of the possible companies. Most businesses are of this type and concerns itself with making a good profit rather than community outreach.”

The Roles

Public Relations plays a key role in promoting social causes and issues for non-profit organizations.

According to GuideStar, ” Public relations is vital to the success of not-for- profit organizations. No matter how important your cause is, you should not expect that everybody will know about it or even about your organization. Proactive communications is essential to success. From building awareness and credibility to supporting fundraising efforts, a well-executed, strategic public relations program can make the difference between achieving one’s goals or falling desperately short of them.”

So essentially, when doing PR for a non-profit, you are promoting a cause that you are passionate about and that concerns the well-being of the community.

On the other hand-

If you practice PR for a for-profit company, your PR skills will mostly be put to use to increase the profit for the company, and wouldn’t necessarily contribute to the greater good for the community.

The Downsides

A possible downside of working as a PR professional for a non-profit is getting paid a lower salary than if you were to work for a for-profit company.

Image result for money stacks

But- when working for a non-profit, you can use your communication skills to tangibly make a positive difference in the community. It all comes down to if you want to use your skills to individually make more money or help the greater good of your community.

Not to say that corporations don’t better the community- but it is arguable that, in more cases, non-profit organizations primary goal is to improve a specific aspect of the community. So when practicing PR at a non-profit, you know your hard work will result in doing good for others in need.

The Case Foundation speaks about the tangible opportunities through a non-profit, ” The opportunity to change the world is around every corner. Nonprofits have become much more sophisticated. They increasingly look like corporations, eager and able to nimbly respond to opportunities presented by the market. Whether it is a natural disaster half the world away, or a donor down the street who wants the organization to think bigger about its programs, many nonprofits have employed new thinking, technological advances, and a more entrepreneurial approach to become more agile, adept, and prepared.”


There is a high concentration on influencing college students to begin working for a large company prior to and after graduation, but other options are available.

A great way to get involved in non-profit and humanitarian work directly after      graduation is joining the Jesuit Volunteer Corps or the Peace Corps. Instead of rushing in to a career in corporate public relations, consider JVC or the Peace Corps. These volunteer programs offer a great opportunity to take time to reflect on how you want to use your communication skills while allowing you to experience the ideals and values that surround non-profit work.


Joe Bednarek explains how his time in the Peace Corps influenced him to do         non-profit work, ” My experience in Ukraine as a Peace Corps Volunteer led me    to an even stronger interest in teaching and working for nonprofit organizations.”


Overall, it is more important to contribute to the greater good of society than to only focus on individual monetary success. I’m not saying that if you decide to work for a non-profit organization you are going to single handedly stop hunger or anything, but you will find a way to make a difference in your own community.




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