Nonprofit status benefits university, aligns with mission

Nonprofits are tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service on money received for their organization because of the verified ways they are advancing the community or providing benefits educationally, religiously, scientifically or otherwise.

Stacey Brodak, vice president for Institutional Advancement and University Relations said more universities than not have a nonprofit status due to their myriad of advantages. Waynesburg University is one of them.

“I would think that most universities are nonprofit, probably for the same reasons too. You do have tax benefits for both the university and donors as a nonprofit,” Brodak said. “As a not-for-profit organization, Waynesburg University attains federal and state tax benefits, and that’s very helpful to us from an administrative level and a financial level.”

In order to be approved as a nonprofit organization, a mission must be developed, approved and maintained, Brodak said.

“As an education institution, our mission is in making sure that we’re dedicated to the education of our students. That’s where the funds are going, so that’s why you get that benefit,” Brodak said. “They [the federal and state government] approve and believe in the mission that we have.”

A nonprofit status diversifies an institution’s financial abilities and provides benefits for those that donate to the institution as well, Brodak said.

“We are not confined due to this status — just the opposite. The fact that we’re a nonprofit enables us to attract financial investment from people and organizations that we would not [if we were] a for-profit institution,” Brodak said. “Our donors: businesses, corporations and other foundations and nonprofits, will not give to an agency that is not a nonprofit.”

The process for receiving grants and other government-funded initiatives is similarly more achievable as a nonprofit. 

The private donor benefit is really significant as well. Alumni and private individual donors also receive a tax credit, an amount of money that can be offset against a tax liability, by donating to the University.

“It can be very advantageous for a donor to understand that they have the choice to give to a for-profit or a nonprofit institution,” Brodak said. “So that’s a win for us and for the donor that’s giving the money. Being a nonprofit opens more doors for us to attract investors.”

Because the government provides this tax benefit, the University must meet requirements and comply with all of the laws, rules and regulations accordingly. This is done by giving certain tax documents and an audit to the state and federal government every year.

“We ensure that all of our efforts and bookkeeping are accurate, and those are sent to the state and federal government,” Brodak said. “We are responsible to make sure we’re transparent.”

Brodak says Waynesburg University will stay a nonprofit; she does not foresee a change on the horizon at all.

“I do think, by being nonprofit, we have very specific goals we are trying to achieve, and all of those are really about educating our students,” Brodak said. “I think it really drives us in a really good way, and we’re completely conscientious, because we’re constantly focused on our donor and student intent.”

Kelley Hardie, director of the Center for Service Leadership and assistant dean of students, reflected on how the nonprofit status aids the university in accountability to its mission statement.

“Waynesburg University is a non-profit because we operate independently and do not have an organization oversee our goals and outcomes,” Hardie said. “Our mission of ‘Faith, Learning and Service,’ has a strong emphasis on developing the student through all aspects of life. This includes local, domestic and international service experiences, never generating a profit through these experiences, rather, focusing on student-development.”

Brodak added that the mission of the institution is to remain student-centered.

“We think about what’s best for our students and their outcomes,” she said. “It naturally puts us in a great position to be very focused on delivering the mission.”