New Canaan: Many essential services in every community are provided by local nonprofits. In fact, our economy is like a three-legged stool, a balance of three sectors: for-profit (businesses that exist to earn a profit), public or government (municipal, state, and federal) and nonprofit organizations (mission-driven businesses that provide a community service and meet a social need). All businesses operate under different goals but with similar means, to have more revenue than expenses. A nonprofit organization uses its surplus revenues to achieve its mission, rather than distributing income to the organization's shareholders, because it exists to meet a societal need, to fulfill a charitable purpose.
While well-managed nonprofits may make money as a result of their activities, their end-goal is to accomplish this social good and not to make a profit. Their income is essential to the organization's survival and surplus is reinvested in the nonprofit, benefiting the whole society.