People, planet and (not for) profit

Greta Rossi, co-founder and chief empathy officer of Akasha Innovation, examines a richer, more sustainable alternative to the traditional three Ps

It is still dark outside. Your body knows it is way too early to be awake yet. So your mind quickly scans through your activities for the day to give you a reason to get out of bed. No matter how shattered you are, your mind always succeeds in pushing your body out of bed and into the world. How does it do that? It simply reminds you of your ‘why’ – your purpose in life.

I am extremely grateful to have found my purpose in life through the work of Akasa Innovation, but I am also well aware that I need frequent reminders to help me flourish in the face of long hours at work, little or no financial remuneration, and never-ending to-do lists.

So pure joy filled my heart when I heard most of the 40 people who attended our event in collaboration with Impact Hub Islington – Another World Is Happening: The Rise Of Not-For-Profit Enterprise – responding positively to the question “How many of us would put purpose ahead of profit in our careers?”

Professor Donnie Maclurcan, co-founder of the Post Growth Institute, visited Impact Hub Islington to remind us once again that we are doing the right thing.

“Beyond capitalism already lies a vibrant not-for-profit world that is shaping a new trend towards an “economics of enough”.”

Drawing on his extended experience working with hundreds of not-for-profit organisations through his Project Australia, Donnie celebrates our work – the work of not-for-profit enterprises – as we are shaping a new pathway towards global prosperity by re-interpreting the third of the ‘three Ps’ to be ‘not-for-profit’.

Donnie’s upcoming book, How on Earth: Flourishing in a Not-For-Profit World by 2050, co-authored with Jennifer Hinton, does not engage in wishful thinking about the future of people and planet. Rather, it explores the future of the global economy, to realise that beyond capitalism already lies a vibrant not-for-profit world that is shaping a new trend towards an “economics of enough”.

This new economic model encourages us to be content with what other people and the planet have to offer us, without wanting to maximise and exploit the human and natural resources around us.

As Donnie explained during his interview with Akasa Innovation before the event, one of the greatest strengths of all these new economic alternatives that we are witnessing today, eg co-operatives and not-for-profit social enterprises, is their contribution to a “new story”. The story of humankind for the past 30-40 years has been focusing on one grand narrative: “We’re best off as individuals, we’re competitive, we’re greedy and we act out of self-interest.”

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But as Donnie highlighted, this story is false. Not-for-profit enterprises are writing a new story that talks about reconnecting with local communities and nature; a story that creates a safe space for innovation to happen. As a result of this, not-for-profit enterprises are more resilient to change than their for-profit counterparts and have better possibilities to survive and thrive in financial and economic recession.

The realisation that the world Donnie is talking about is already happening, right here, right now, fills me with hope that I am contributing to a story of reconnection, care and “enough”.

It also helped me recognise that there is something else that drives me out of bed when it is still dark outside. My mind helps me understand my sense of purpose, but it does not have the ability to make me feel it.

It is rather my heart that has the power to fill me with a true sense of fulfilment that gives me the energy to wake up every day to write another line of this new story.