Entrepreneurs who start new firms may choose not-for-profit status as a means of committing to soft incentives. Such incentives protect donors, volunteers, consumers and employees from ex post expropriation of profits by the entrepreneur. We derive conditions under which completely self-interested entrepreneurs opt for not-for-profit status, despite the fact that this status limits their ability to enjoy the profits of their enterprises. When entrepreneurs have a taste for producing high quality products, the incentives are even softer, and, moreover, non-profit status can serve as a signal of that taste. We also show that even in the absence of tax advantages, unrestricted donations would flow to non-profits rather than for-profit firms because donations have more significant influence on the decisions of the non-profits.
Glaeser, Edward L. & Shleifer, Andrei, 2001. "Not-for-profit entrepreneurs," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(1), pages 99-115, July. citation courtesy of