Education Through Entertainment

Guide To School Assemblies Pt. 7 – For Profit and Not For Profit

Posted on Wed, Mar 13, 2013

Recently we have been developing a “Beginners Guide to School Assemblies” through this blog.

Just a quick side road today to explain an important distinction between two different types of providers bringing school assemblies to schools.

funding school shows resized 600School shows, as we have seen, come from many different sources. But, in one way, they all fall into one of two camps. They are either provided by a ""not for profit group or individual, or from one that is "for profit".

What does this distinction mean? Well, to a school looking for school shows, probably very little. In essence, the difference is only important in two ways. It affects the way in which companies are organized, and consequently what their tax obligations are. And it also affects whether or not the organization is eligible for tax deductible donations and "grants". Not for profit entities are eligible whereas for profit groups are not.

So why do some providers of school shows opt for non profit status while others do not? Part of that answer, from the point of view of a performer, is in control of your goals and over how they are implemented. Part of it has to do with simplicity of organization. And part of it has to do with how much money you as a performer, think you are show funding resized 600

A not for profit group is very difficult to start. The government requires that the company be organized along certain lines, often requiring a lot of red tape. For some companies and individuals  this can, in itself, be prohibitive. And the list of other requirements is extensive, and often not worth the effort for an artist who simply wants to perform.

In the long run the decision usually boils down to time, effort and the willingness to relinquish certain amounts of control over your own artistic endeavors. Many superb performers are simply not willing to make these concessions.

Honestly, though, it will make little difference to you, representing the school. The difference only concerns how the show is funded before it reaches you. But it does make a difference in some small ways.

Not for profit groups receive funding from many places whether or not they charge you, the school, a fee to visit you. Science museums, arts organizations, and groups coming out of universities are but some of those that usually fall into the not for profit category. They most likely receive some of their operational funding from government or private grants. Even so, they may still charge a fee, and sometimes quite a large fee, for visiting your school. For profit individuals, from the local expert or juggler right on up to the large national companies that tour, are for profit, and fund their entire visit and expenses on what they charge schools.

So, does it make more sense to only work with not for profit groups? Intuitively, you might think so, right? After all, if they are funded by grants then, it would seem, the fee should be relatively low in comparison to what you receive in your visit. Sometimes this is, in fact, the case. Actually, some of these groups and organizations are able to make school visits for very low fees or for no fee at all. However, not always. Sometimes, in fact, their fees can be very, very high. It pays to check for alternatives. Often, for profit individuals or groups are not only less expensive, but may also offer services or content unavailable any other way.

school show options resized 600Some not for profits may have grants available to defray the cost of their productions when dealing with disadvantaged schools so it never hurts to ask if that situation applies to your school. For profit groups do not. They cannot, because their status under the tax codes precludes their receiving assistance in the form of grants. However, some for profit groups may pretend to have that option. Why? Well, it can be embarrassing at the least, and downright bad for business at the other extreme, for a performer or company to admit that their schedule is not full. So, instead of doing so, they will bend over backwards to fill a few dates. And one way to do that is to offer a a generous discount but without admitting that they are doing that. Instead, the explanation of mysterious "grant money" is trotted out to explain their ability to offer a lowered price. It saves face. It just sounds better than saying "Hey, our performer needs work. No body booked him and we need money. What can you afford to pay?"

The reality is that for profit companies absolutely do not qualify for grants of any kind, neither from public nor private sources. If a for profit company claims to have “grant money” available to you, you may wish to question their integrity as a company.

But from your point of view, as a representative of a school, the really important thing to remember is this... grants are out there! Lots of them! Many, many grants, of all different kinds, and if you do the legwork, you can qualify for them. You, or rather the school you represent, are a not for profit organization. So, you are eligible to obtain funding through grants. There is absolutely no reason why you cannot apply for any grant source you can find. And, once you qualify for the grant, it will not matter at all whether the money you receive and then spend is spent to obtain services from a company which is for profit or not for profit. No difference at all.



Geoff Beauchamp is the Regional Manager of Mobile Ed Productions where "Education Through Entertainment" has been the guiding principal since 1979. Mobile Ed Productions produces and markets quality educational school assembly programs in the fields of sciencehistorywritingastronomynatural sciencemathematicscharacter issues and a variety of other curriculum based areas. In addition, Mr. Beauchamp is a professional actor with 30 years of experience in film, television and on stage. He created and still performs occasionally in Mobile Ed's THE LIVING LINCOLN. He also spent ten years coordinating assembly programs for the elementary school where his own children went to school.

Topics: School Assembly Guide, ideas for school assemblies, school lyceums, School Enrichment Programs