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Home  > Article

A For-Profit Non-Profit?

By Erdin Beshimov

Does the phrase "for-profit nonprofit" sound like an oxymoron? The founders of the world's most visited site - Google - Larry Page and Sergey Brin do not think so.

In 2004, six years into the founding of Google, Page and Brin established the Google Foundation with a $90 million initial commitment.? The Foundation began supporting and promoting ventures oriented at economic development and poverty eradication in developing countries. The Foundation attached particular importance to market-based, entrepreneurial, microfinance and technological solutions.? Google also dedicated funds to health research and relief, supporting the work of such organizations as the Make-a-Wish Foundation and Doctors Without Borders.? In addition, the foundation has to-date donated $33 million to 850 nonprofits in 10 countries for free advertising, helping them bring their missions to public attention.?

Recently, Google made the next step and established a philanthropic organization named, endowed it with a $1 billion financial commitment and tasked it with combating poverty, disease and global warming.? This organization, however, will not be a charity in the traditional sense of the word.? Unlike the majority of existing philanthropic foundations, will be a for-profit philanthropy.?

What is the rationale for this unusual structure?

Google founders believe that the organization's for-profit status will allow to do something that traditional nonprofits cannot: make profits, fund start-up companies, partner with venture capitalists and lobby Congress.? It will also have to do something that other nonprofits do not - pay taxes.? ??

Page and Brin also believe that the for-profit status will enable with additional flexibility and competitiveness.? could create global development promoting start-up and the fact that profit would not be their first concern would make them more competitive.

Dr. Brilliant, the new executive director at the helm of, draw a parallel between the traditional structures of corporate foundations to a musician limited to playing only the high register of the piano.? " can play on the entire keyboard.? It can start companies, build industries, pay consultants, lobby, give money to individuals and make profit."? Quite importantly, if returns a profit, the profit will stay with and will not be used to fund other Google activities.?

A novel move, isn't it?? Page and Brin hope that "someday this institution may eclipse Google itself in terms of overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the world's problems."

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