A nonprofit, defined as a 501 (c)(3) organization, can still generate earned income, and many of them do through various social entrepreneurship program ideas.
The National Center for Charitable Statistics estimates that a majority of nonprofits today, nearly 70% in fact, generated some form of income to help fund their operations. The total amounted to $1.4 trillion in 2008, and most of this came from the sale of goods and service.
The Girl Scouts of America is a classic example of a nonprofit organization that generates income from the sale of Girl Scout cookies. Far from being a modern idea, this example dates back to 1917 when the first troop of Girl Scouts in Oklahoma began selling cookie to raise funds.
The organization was founded to teach girls practical life skills, and getting into the cookie business did just that, while also giving the organization a financial boost.
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