Why a non-profit?

We’ve been making slow but steady progress on starting a non-profit to help other amputees, but we still have a long ways to go. In a way, the decision to go the non-profit route was the easiest decision to make, but it was still incredibly scary. It’s also one of the most common questions I hear when talking to people about what we’re doing. Why a non-profit?

While non-profits sound great in theory, they have one big weakness: they’re not inherently self-sustaining. With a business, as you grow, you get new customers and more revenue to support that growth. With a non-profit, as you grow and increase costs, you have to find ways to support that growth financially, and that’s a scary prospect. What if we build and launch this thing, but there’s not enough income to support it?

There’s a handful layers to this answer. The first two are focused purely on operations. Given my experience building and running a hosted web application, the design and development costs are effectively zero. It’s just my time. Sure, there’s some fixed costs for things like hosting and other tooling, but as far as non-profit operational costs go, those are pretty darn low.

I can’t think of something with a better ratio of operating costs to potential reach. That is, the amount of people this can help directly dwarfs the fixed operational costs. Second, half of sustainability is simply about keeping costs low, and I’d say a good quarter of the time I’ve spent researching and planning ways to do just that without sacrificing quality. And being a non-profit further helps lower those costs in some meaningful ways. It may not make up for it completely, but it helps.

The last two layers are both simpler and more important. The first is faith. I’ve had dozens of conversations now with others in and around the amputee community, and this is the exact kind of resource we need. If it existed, it could help countless amputees. If it can help them, then surely it can find a way to support itself. It won’t be easy, but we’re confident we can find a way.

While I’m saving it for last here, the final layer is the most important layer. Financial accessibility. If you’re an amputee, you’re already being tapped financially with endless medical expenses, and you will be for the rest of your life. Depending on the quality of your insurance, it could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Amputees and their families don’t need to spend any more money. In fact, in addition to information, Adaptable can hopefully help them spend less money through increased awareness of programs for financial assistance in the form of grants, discounts, and other programs.

All of this said, when you do the math, it’s a little scary, but there’s no question that this has to be a non-profit. The ultimate goal is to unburden and enable amputees and their families. So it’s on us to figure out the rest.