A Nonprofit Primer

Most of you probably know that Homewoods on the Willamette is a nonprofit, tax exempt organization. It doesn’t really get brought up in day-to-day talk all that often, yet when I mention it, most people say they can feel the difference between our community and other, for-profit communities. There’s a vague sense that it must influence our pricing, community atmosphere, and work ethic, among other parts of our culture here. But what does it really mean to be a nonprofit organization?

At the broadest level, nonprofit means that there are no private stakeholders who benefit from the profits we make. The money we make stays here, to be used in our organization. We set aside money for the large expenses that keeping up a property like this requires, and to prepare ourselves to weather unforeseen events. This gives us the freedom to focus our efforts exclusively on the mission of our organization and the stewardship of our building and property, without worrying about whether or not we are making enough money for owners or investors.

We are also provided a tax-exempt status, meaning that we do not pay taxes on any of the profits we generate. Nonprofit organizations are awarded this status when it is deemed that they provide a benefit to the community that, in their absence, would either have to be taken on by government or result in deficits in services within the community. For us, this benefit is mainly expressed through our relationship with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), with whom we have contracted to provide market-rate housing and services for adults over the age of 62. Additionally, we use donations to provide significant financial support to retired pastors’ supplementary insurance, as well as local senior centers and community groups. We also provide matching funds for the Alzheimer’s Association Raffle and staff scholarships. Finally, we take positive action in our community, volunteering our time to local service organizations, assisting local schools with jobs training programs, and advocating for older adult interests in local, state, and federal politics.

This year, as we prepare to celebrate Resident Appreciation Week, I think it is especially important to highlight the role of our residents in this process. In a traditional, for-profit structure, the bottom line of the organization is what the owner gets. At Homewoods, we are all about what we can give, and every day our residents work to provide an excellent residence for others, an excellent place to work for our staff, and ultimately, have an excellent effect on our local community. In short, you’re all excellent, and we’re looking forward to spending an entire week telling you so!