In the Spotlight

News & Features
Make Change, Not Money
Part 4: Mythical Nonprofit Stock Exchange
By American RadioWorks
September 3, 1998

There are many activities on the eve of the 21st century where the old definitions are crumbling fast. Nonprofits are absorbing many tasks that government did only a few years ago. Nonprofits are competing with private enterprise. Businesses are setting up shop in education, healthcare, and other industries traditionally dominated by nonprofits. Sometimes nonprofits compete with government and business. Sometimes they cooperate. It's increasingly difficult to tell where one starts and the other ends.

THE NON-PROFIT WORLD HAS NOTHING TO COMPARE with the New York Stock Exchange. And yet nonprofits do rely on contributors, their investors if you will, for capital.

And this do-good market is bustling. Something is being traded. But what is it? To find out, let's go to the floor of the mythical Nipsy, Non-Profit Stock Exchange, and talk to a broker.

Gandy: Martin Gandy here. Non Profit Stock Exchange. Nipsy is what we call it. How can I help?

Chris: I've got some extra money I want to put into a non profit, but I'm looking for the best deal. What can I get?

Gandy: What can you get? Have I mentioned a tax write-off?

Chris: We just started talking.

Gandy: Oh, you can write this off on your taxes. Some people find that attractive.

Chris: I'll take the tax break, but I'm looking for something more.

Gandy: Something more, something more. Well, you seem like a fella with a lot of guilt. Am I right about that? Good. I would go for the blue chip social welfare nonprofits right away. Your United Way, your Red Cross, your CARE. They're established brand names. They'll associate you with a lot of good work. You'll write off some taxes. Have I mentioned the tax break? There is one. Also, you can write off that guilt. You'll sleep at night, trust me.

Chris: I want to do that. But ...

Gandy: Don't tell me! Your legacy! You're thinking about your place in history, am I right? Of course I am. In that case, a major donation to one of the Alma Maters would do wonders. How about having your name on a new computer science building? What's your name?

Chris: Chris Farrell.

Gandy: Farrell Hall. Sounds great! Thirty million would do it.

Chris: Whoa! I don't have that much.

Gandy: No problem. There really ought to be a fountain in front of the hall. The Farrell Fountain! Half-a-million dollars!

Chris: That's a big fountain.

Gandy: I hear you! Fountains leak anyway. They'll need a drainage ditch near the building, with a footbridge for the students. The Chris Farrell Footbridge! Fifteen thousand! How about it?

Chris: I guess I don't want my name on anything. Thanks.

Gandy: We could name the ditch!

Chris: No.

Gandy: Have I mentioned the tax write-off? And getting rid of that guilt?

Chris: I really don't have much guilt.

Gandy: Fine. And do you have that sense of well being and community involvement that comes from a direct connection to a worthy cause?

Chris: I could use some of that.

Gandy: You're in luck. Opportunities abound on the Nipsy. But we'll have to look at your specific interests. Individual cases vary, as they say on Wall Street. Talk to your broker. I guess that's me!

While the real life foundations keep a wary eye on Wall Street, let's return to the apocryphal Nipsy, the Non-Profit Stock Exchange, and broker Martin Gandy.

Gandy: Huge merger news here. DoGoodCo, is absorbing another biggie, Best Intentions Inc., or Bestin. People here are going nuts.

Chris: Nonprofits merge too?

Gandy: Sure! One stop shopping, cutting overhead, all the same reasons that for profits use.

Chris: Is this a good thing?

Gandy: That's what we're trying to figure out. DoGoodCo is into social causes; the three h's: hunger, housing, health care. And they've got a couple of real big diseases that bring in a lot of money every year. Holier Than Thou Syndrome, and Lemming's Disease.

Chris: No kidding. Lemming's disease. That certainly sweeps through the market once in a while.

Gandy: Yes, now everybody's on the Lemming's Disease bandwagon.

Chris: What about BestIn?

Gandy: They do museums, historic preservation projects, arts organizations, grocery co-ops, private schools and sports clubs.

Chris: How is the market reacting?

Gandy: We're actually kind of waiting for more information and a statement from the executive director of DoGoodCo, Theresa Nobel Selfless. One comment can make all the difference.

Chris: In all this merger mania, is anyone interested in smaller, little known, or even start up nonprofits?

Gandy: Oh, sure. You can do great things with a small outfit. Name your cause! There's a nonprofit somewhere that does it.

Chris: I want to save the world.

Gandy: Save the world, save the world. The WHOLE world?

Chris: All of it.

Gandy: That's out of your price range, but let me tell you about two great opportunities. The Ticker Tape Museum restores and operates old stock quote tickers for education, history and to supply parades.

Chris: O.K.

Gandy: And Keynesian Fields, a subsidized retirement community for contrarian economists who consistently picked wrong in the stock market.

Chris: I like that one.

Gandy: There's a big, big future in wrong economists! Smart investment. But of course there are no guarantees on the NPSE. And if you can't afford to lose it, you shouldn't give it away.

Chris: Good advice.

Speaking of scrutiny, let's check out the action at the Non Profit Stock Exchange and broker Martin Gandy. What's happening there Martin?

Gandy: We're still waiting for some kind of statement on the DoGoodCo / Best Intentions merger. Theresa Nobel Selfless, the CEO, is expected to have an announcement shortly.

Chris: Just a word from management can have a big effect on this market too, huh?

Gandy: A good public image is extremely important for a nonprofit. I can't emphasize that too much! Investors will forgive a for-profit company for being callous, cruel and manipulative if they produce the dividends. Here on the NPSE, it's a different world.

Chris: Hey, the announcement you're waiting for has just crossed the newswires. Wanna hear it?

Gandy: Absolutely! (off mic) Hey everybody ... this is it.

Chris: Let's see. "DoGoodCo announced merger with Bestin, blah blah blah, social causes and health care joining forces with museums and arts organizations, blah blah blah. CEO Selfless says "Combining with BestIn will allow DoGoodCo to do more and profit less from it than any entity in the history of the planet."

Gandy: Believe it or not, to this market, that sounds pretty good. "Do more, profit less," will work!

Chris: She also said "We're gonna be so incredibly big and powerful, you won't be able to field a pee wee hockey team in this country without my personal O.K."

Gandy: She said that? She kinda forgot about the good deeds part of the mission there, didn't she.

Chris: Apparently.

Gandy: (off mic, but loud) SELL! SELL! SELL!

That's Martin Gandy dumping everything he owns on the totally bogus Non-Profit Stock Exchange.