Why Donate to a Nonprofit Milk Bank?

by Janice O'Rourke, MPA, RD, Executive Director, IMMB

One of the most common questions we get is WHY SHOULD A MOM DONATE HER BREASTMILK TO A NONPROFIT MILK BANK?

For people like myself that study philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, we talk about many reasons why nonprofits exist.  We can talk about how nonprofits pick up where the for-profit market and the government fail or are inefficient.  We can tell you that the only difference between a nonprofit and a for-profit is something called the “nondistribution constraint,” words that mean that for-profit organizations pay dividends to their stockholders, while nonprofits use revenue to expand their services or provide charity care. But in the world of nonprofit milk banking, it means so much more. It means that moms donate their milk altruistically, without any desire for personal gain.  In Donor Human Milk:  Ensuring Safety and Ethical Allocation, the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) questions the profit motive for donating milk, as it could put the mother at risk if she feels pressured to provide a certain volume of milk to an organization rather than feeding her own infant.

Being a nonprofit milk bank also means that our donors can be assured that their milk is handled with care and provided to the neediest of infants in the neonatal intensive care units without the motivation of profit. Nonprofit donor milk banks, just as nonprofit blood and tissue banks, help ensure that a valuable healthcare resource is allocated in an ethical and safe manner, keeping the safety and needs of the recipient and donor in the forefront.  And rather than treating donated milk as a commodity, nonprofit milk banks treat it for what it is, an act of love.