Nonprofit or Non-Profit: A Quick Guide

The use of “nonprofit” or “non-profit” depends on both the style guide being followed and regional preferences. Both forms are correct, but their usage can vary.

“Nonprofit” (One Word):

    • More Common in American English: In the United States, “nonprofit” as one word is more commonly used. This can be seen in many American publications and legal documents.
    • Style Guides: The Associated Press Stylebook, widely used in journalism, prefers “nonprofit” as one word.
    • Example: “The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a well-known nonprofit organization dedicated to global health and education.”

“Non-profit” (Hyphenated):

      • British English and Other Varieties: In British English and other forms of English outside the U.S., “non-profit” is often used with a hyphen. This reflects a general tendency in British English to use hyphens more frequently.
      • Certain Style Guides: Some style guides, particularly those that are not American, might recommend “non-profit” with a hyphen. For instance, the Oxford Guide to Style might lean towards this usage.
      • Example: “Oxfam is an international non-profit organization that aims to alleviate global poverty.”

Contextual Preference:

    • In Academic Writing: The choice might depend on the style guide of the academic institution or the publication. For instance, American Psychological Association (APA) style might differ from Modern Language Association (MLA) style.
    • In Legal Documents: The legal terminology in different countries might favor one form over the other. For example, U.S. legal documents are likely to use “nonprofit.”

Evolution of Language:

    • Trend Towards Simplification: Over time, English tends to simplify compound words, moving from two words to a hyphenated form, and finally to a single word. “Nonprofit” might be an example of this evolution.
    • Consistency: It’s important to be consistent in the use of either form within a single document or series of documents.

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In summary, both “nonprofit” and “non-profit” are correct, but their usage might vary based on regional preferences, the context in which they are used, and the specific style guides followed. When writing, it’s advisable to choose one form and use it consistently throughout your document.

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