Not-for-profit vs Nonprofit

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What’s the difference between them?



Not-for-profit refers to organizations that do not earn profits for their owners or shareholders; instead, they use their income to fund their operations and provide services to the public.


1. The community center operates as a not-for-profit organization, using its funds to offer affordable programs and services to residents.

2. Charities often register as not-for-profit entities to ensure that the donations they receive are directed toward their mission rather than profits.

3. The educational foundation is committed to being not-for-profit, reinvesting its resources into scholarships and educational initiatives.



Nonprofit is an organization or activity that is undertaken to provide services or benefits to the public without the intention of making a profit.


1. Our organization is a nonprofit that provides free medical services to low-income families.

2. The nonprofit has been running for over 10 years and has helped hundreds of people in need.

3. The university hosts many fundraising events for local nonprofits in the community.

Learn similar and opposite words to spot the difference




1. NGO (Non-Governmental Organization)

2. Charitable foundation

3. Public service organization

1. For-profit

2. Profitable

3. Commercial

4. Money-making

5. Lucrative


1. Nonprofit

2. Charitable

3. Voluntary

4. Philanthropic

1. For-profit

2. Profit-making

3. Commercial

4. Lucrative

5. Money-oriented

Tricks for mastery

Useful tips to understand the difference between confusing words "Not-for-profit", "Nonprofit".

1. Associate 'not-for-profit' with the idea that the organization doesn't exist to earn profits for owners or shareholders. The focus is on what it's not for—profit for private individuals.

2. Think of 'nonprofit' as a positive statement—it's an organization or activity that explicitly operates without the intention of making a profit.

Practice English with the Promova app and avoid misusing confusing words

Frequently asked questions

In what situations should the first word 'nonprofit' be used?

Nonprofit organizations are typically formed to advance particular social causes or to promote the collective interest of a community or group. Nonprofit organizations are driven by their mission and purpose rather than by the pursuit of profits. Examples of nonprofit organizations include charities, churches, foundations, hospitals, and community organizations.

When is the appropriate context for using the second word 'nonprofit'?

The term 'not-for-profit' is often used interchangeably with 'nonprofit'. A not-for-profit is an organization that does not distribute any profits generated to shareholders or owners, instead, it uses all profits to further its goals and mission. Not-for-profit organizations are exempt from paying taxes on income and other financial activities and are generally organized to benefit the public.

Do the two words share the same pronunciation?

No, 'not-for-profit' is pronounced as /ˌnɑːt.fɚˈprɑː.fɪt/, while 'nonprofit' is pronounced as /ˌnɒnˈprɒfɪt/.

What are some common mistakes people make when using these words?

One of the most common mistakes is confusing the word 'not-for-profit' with 'non-profit'. While both words refer to organizations that do not distribute profits to shareholders or owners, the primary difference is that 'nonprofit' organizations generally focus on advancing a social cause, while 'not-for-profit' organizations are focused on furthering their mission and purpose. Another mistake people often make is thinking that nonprofits are not subject to any rules or regulations. While they may have some exemptions from certain taxes and regulations, nonprofits must still comply with applicable laws and regulations.

Fill in the gaps to check yourself

1. Many charities operate as ___ organizations, relying on donations to fund their activities.

2. Our community center is a ___ organization, so we invest all revenue back into our services.

3. The hospital, while receiving some government funding, is largely supported by a ___ foundation.

4. Organizations that are ___ usually have tax-exempt status.

5. She decided to start a ___ business that focuses on supporting environmental causes.

6. Theres a ___ theater downtown that offers free acting workshops to young artists.

1. not-for-profit

Explanation: The sentence emphasizes the mode of operation. The term not-for-profit emphasizes operation more than organizational structure, making it a more appropriate fit here.

2. non-profit

Explanation: The focus of the sentence is on the organizations structure, making non-profit the more suitable choice.

3. non-profit

Explanation: A foundation supporting a hospital usually falls under the category of a non-profit, which emphasizes the organizational structure.

4. non-profit

Explanation: The term tax-exempt status directly relates to the legal structure of the organization, and thus non-profit is more fitting.

5. not-for-profit

Explanation: The emphasis here is on the nature and purpose of the business, not the structure. Thus, not-for-profit is a more fitting choice.

6. not-for-profit

Explanation: Offering free acting workshops aligns with the operational mode where the organization isnt aiming to make a profit from this specific activity, making not-for-profit the better choice.

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List of Commonly Confused Words

Finding your way around the English language can be hard, especially since there are so many confusing words and rules. So, a list of the most confusing words in English is an extremely useful tool for improving language accuracy and sharing the ideas clearly.