What's the Difference between a Public Benefit Corp & a Non-Profit?

Girls Who Code

Girls Who Code

Monday's post on PBCs got a little nerdy. I'm completely aware of this, so thank you for hanging in there. 

Today, I want to go sliiiiiightly into the mechanics. But it'll be less verbose, I promise.


Recently, I was chatting with someone from Nashville Creative Souls. She's been kicking around an idea for her own organization for years now. She's at the tipping point of turning her art hobby into her art business, and she's unsure where to go next. This is one internal conflict in her way: 

"I want to pass along the good fortune I've had and the life I've created to young women who are disadvantaged - young women who are the 18 year old former me. But how? Can I make money for myself too? Do I have to create a non-profit? What does a non-profit actually mean?"

This was the first of several conversations I'd had on this topic in Nashville, and I was delighted that there were others out there like me, asking these questions. This conversation prompted me to put together a simplified summary of the key differences between PBCs and Non-Profits. In case it helps you too, I wanted to share...


The summary is:

Non-profits do not make a profit, and there is no ownership. They do not taxes, but the mission must be crystal clear and all activities aligned with it. For PBCs, basically the opposite is true.

PBC v Non-Profit.jpg

If you're in Tennessee and interested in starting a PBC - or converting an existing company to a PBC - you're in luck! As of January 1, 2016 you can (each state has its own laws and requirements). As I mentioned earlier in the week with Kickstarter, the public benefit charter is THE binding document, and here's TN's charter form that must be completed for the initial filing.


Cards on the table: you probably have guessed that I'm doing a lot of research on this for my own work. If you'd like more detailed behind-the-scenes information, please send me an email at julie.lynne.sellers@gmail.com, and I'm happy to share lots of step-by-step details with you.


And on a related note, I am searching for charitable organizations to work with, so I'd love to crowdsource you for your passions and organizations with whom you work, which could use a little benefit-boost. I'm looking for organizations, which work on behalf of one or multiple of the following:

Please leave your suggestions in the comments below - and be sure to leave a note if you have any formal affiliation so that I can be in touch with you to learn more. Thank you!


Photo from the Power of Purpose