NFP Organisations and Their Role in Society

NFP Organisations and Their Role in Society

What Is the Role of NFP Organisations in Society?

The purpose of not-for-profits (NFPs) is, as the name suggests, not to make money, but to solve societal problems while building trust with the public. Equivalent in size to the retail, education and training, and public administration and safety sectors, NFPs – sometimes referred to as the charity, community or social sector – are the sleeping giants of the Australian employment landscape. Contributing AU$129 billion to the economy annually, this sector is an important part of the social ecosystem, employing as many as 1.3 million people – one in 10 working adults.  

How Are Not-For-Profit Organisations Vital to the Australian Economy?

Australia’s 60,000 registered NFPs often provide essential services and support that, in turn, prevent further losses to the economy. They are well-governed, operate with sound financial management, and have invested much into fostering confidence in the communities they serve, playing a key role in helping the most vulnerable members of society.  

NFPs often provide services that would otherwise be unavailable, such as support for the homeless, meals on wheels, and counselling services – much of which is delivered by volunteers, saving millions every year in wages. They also provide opportunities for people to come together, work towards a common goal, and build strong and resilient communities (especially in areas with smaller levels of infrastructure or smaller populations).  

An excellent example of an NFP is the iconic Royal Flying Doctor Service, an aeromedical organisation that delivers health and emergency services to otherwise isolated Australians who live and work on rural properties.  

Economically, NFPs contribute up to 3.8% of gross value added (GVA) to the Australian economy, more than the agricultural, forestry and fishing industries (2.4%) and the information, media and telecommunications industries (3%). 

Why Would People Work for a Not-For-Profit Organisation?

Location, respect and compensation are key decision factors for modern job hunters. Other considerations include work-life balance, ethics, and recognition. The secret weapon of NFPs is a highly attractive combination of respect, ethics, recognition and compensation, helping them excel in areas such as acquiring talent, creating a shared vision, having inspirational leaders, and being beneficiary-focused 

Some employees are drawn to the mission and the opportunity to make a difference in the world, while others appreciate flexible work hours or family-friendly policies. Most, if not all, though, find the not-for-profit sector to be more fulfilling or rewarding than the private sector. Whatever the reason, many talented and dedicated individuals work for not-for-profit organisations. They are an essential part of these teams and help further their missions. 

What Traits Do the Most Successful Not-For-Profit Organisations Share?

Social-sector leaders possess valuable insights that can educate the world on how to align with their purpose and mission. Despite being hugely diverse with unique missions and goals, the most successful not-for-profits share three key capabilities: they are excellent at fundraising, have a strong focus on impact, and are well-managed. 

1. Excellent Fundraising

The strongest not-for-profits need a laser-focused understanding of their target demographics, the mechanisms that inspire new donors to act, and how best to maximise loyalty within their existing donor base. They have strong relationships with key donors and a robust fundraising strategy that each employee understands and contributes to. 

2. Focus on Impact

To be memorable, NFPs need to foster clear, measurable goals. There’s also an ongoing investment in programs and activities with a proven track record of delivering results. 

3. Good Management

The best not-for-profits are well-managed, with transparent systems and processes in place, and are backed by strong governance structures and experienced management teams. They are also efficient and effective in their use of resources. 


Not-for-profit organisations play a huge role in the Australian economy and employ a large number of people, providing crucial resources and assistance to those who need it most. They strive to improve society through strategic fundraising, focused impact, and exemplary management.  

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