Happy Joe to Shut Down Non-Profit Organization in Favor of For-Profit Venture

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Happy Joe founder James Dalman announced this week that the non-profit organization will be shutting down. Dalman started the organization to help veterans find employment opportunities in WordPress and other web technologies. He plans to continue with a modified version of the Happy Joe mission set up as a for-profit venture.

After operating for the past two years as a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, Dalman no longer has the desire to continue raising funds. Happy Joe pulled in $80,000 in 2015 through corporate sponsorships and private donations, but Dalman started 2016 with no funds to carry through.

“The reality is we can’t continue on a zero budget and I can’t continue to work for free,” he said. “While it would be simple to say dedicate more time to asking companies and people for funding, it’s not in my heart to do so anymore. I believe in being self-sufficient and not a burden on others.”

Lack of funding is the primary reason the organization is shutting down, but Dalman also struggled with the perception of non-profits. With organizations like the Wounded Warrior Foundation receiving negative press for excessive spending, Dalman said the growing skepticism of non-profits made his job more challenging.

There’s no doubt that accountability and transparency is critical and Happy Joe has strived to excel in this. But the wrong assumptions about what a non-profit can do and the skepticism and lack of trust also complicates the mission for teams operating in the non-profit space for the future. Battling these challenges keeps us from doing the work that truly matters.

Dalman’s non-profit post-mortem also cites negative stereotypes about veterans, expectations of rewards or kickbacks for donations, and his own leadership as contributing factors to his decision to shut the organization down.

“We will now operate as a for-profit venture and will shift our focus from web tech training to building a talent marketplace where veterans can get freelance work and be mentored in growing a business,” Dalman said.

The new for-profit venture will drop some of the programs that Happy Joe offered previously but will continue to assist veterans in seeking employment and developing entrepreneurial skills.

5 Comments


  1. Not trying to be a wise ass, but the thing which immediately strikes me is that Joe has done it the wrong way round.

    I should have thought with his desire to be self-sufficient the best plan would have been to start the for-profit first, and then have it fund the non-profit, and not be beholding to anyone.

    Anyway, I wish him good luck and hope it works out for all involved.

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    1. Exactly my thought, too, Terence. That’s what I’m doing with my own organization, in fact.

      And vets are in such need of services, I truly hope it works out.

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  2. Dalman was doing a pretty good work with his non-profit organization but lack of funding forces one to stop the charity. I think it’s a good decision to start with profit venture.

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  3. Thanks for the article Sarah. I just noticed it!

    @Terence – The idea from the very beginning was creating an organization that wasn’t about the money and that would outlive my involvement with it. My purpose was to do something different and starting as an NPO was the way to do that.

    The unfortunate side of non-profit work is that you spend more of your time trying to raise money than doing the stuff that actually helps people. And with the constant scandals surrounding charities, it makes this journey all that more difficult.

    Choosing how we did this wasn’t wrong because even for-profits aren’t guaranteed to make money or stay in business. Either way it’s hard work.

    @Yachika – Thank you!

    We will adapt and improvise. As long as we don’t lose the war, that’s what matters!

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