Grants and 501(c)(3)’s and our Business Model

Posted on Aug 1, 2012

Grants and 501(c)(3)’s and our Business Model

When we greet a new patient at the clinic, after we get through the usual “can acupuncture help me with X” questions, it seems inevitable that they are curious about how our business model works. Many assume that because most acupuncturists charge $65 at a minimum per treatment, and our rates are significantly more affordable, that we must be a charity, 501(c)(3), supported by government grants, etc. It’s not that we have anything against non-profit organizations or charities, it’s just not what we do. Yes, we help lots of people, and yes we go out of our way to make it affordable to as many people as possible, and many non-profits do the same. The problem that non-profits often run into is that there can be a disconnect of incentives: the people paying for the service and the people using the service aren’t the same, and may have different goals/wants/needs/etc. In our case as a privately owned business, the incentive to provide the service (ie: getting paid) is inseparable from the people who are receiving the service. The reason we’re structured this way, and most community acupuncture clinics are as well, can be summed up in one word: sustainability.

If we were dependent upon grants or donors to do what we do, we could have hundreds of people through our doors each week all getting relief from pain and suffering and always have the possibility of having to close the doors because of a grant application being denied, or a donor deciding to support a new cause. On the other side of that coin, we could spend all our time schmoozing with donors and lobbying for funding, blowing money on trumpeting how awesome our organization is while ignoring the people we’re supposed to serve. The first case would be heartbreaking, the second one downright unthinkable.

We prefer the honesty and relationships that come from a sustainable community business: we help people and they pay us to keep doing it. Our fate is very much in the hands of the people we treat day in and day out, and we’re grateful each day for the opportunity.

Update: At Nate and Andy’s suggestion, I’ve got a new post up about POCA. What is POCA you ask? Read all about it here.



  1. Fantastic… you should link this to POCA.

    • Thanks Nate! Yeah, I probably do need to get around to putting the recliner logo up don’t I?

      • I second Nate’s motion.

        • Will do, new POCA-centric blog post is in the works!

  2. You both are true earth angels. Love, light, peace, healing, and laughter. . .Natasha xxxooo

    • Thanks for your kind words Natasha!

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