We did not receive the following letter in time for publication in our print edition, so consider this a “web exclusive.”–Ed.I followed the story regarding the LUCR’s fundraising efforts in last week’s newspaper closely. The College Republicans were clearly preocuppied primarily on financial matters, and were perhaps unclear regarding the differing natures inherent in various types of organizations. This may be why there were unable to understand the negative reactions to their efforts and accusations that they were being less than truthful. As a graduating senior intending to pursue a career in non-profit work, I thought perhaps I could be of some help to them.
There was obvious confusion regarding the definition of a non-profit organization. This, as defined by www.socialstudieshelp.com, is an economic institution that operates like a business but does not seek financial gain. Examples are schools, churches, and community service organizations. Non-profit organizations often provide goods and services to consumers while they pursue other rewards such as improving educational standards, seeing the sick become well, and helping those in need.
Thus, a non-profit organization is not the same as a political group. Therefore, while a donation to a non-profit such as the Milwaukee Art Museum or Hunger Task Force could be considered tax-deductable, contributions to the Democratic Party or the Bush-Cheney campaign would not.
Finally, a third important distinction should be made between these two types of groups and campus organizations. While some campus organizations are affiliated with non-profit groups, such as Habitat for Humanity or V-Day, it does not follow that ALL campus groups are therefore non-profit organizations. Although politically-motivated campus groups often need to raise funds in order to function, they are still NOT non-profit organizations. The Lawrence University College Republicans would fall into this category.
It is my hope that these clarifications will aid the college republicans in their dispensation of the money generated from their parking lot fundraiser, enabling them to chose a truly non-profit organization to receive the money that they raised. Of course, as we all know, they will naturally act with integrity and truth in these and all other matters and inform the generous donors contributing to their fundraiser of which non-profit group they have selected as a beneficiary of their efforts.