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Local Nonprofits are Strong, Tenacious, and Resilient

A recent OpEd on the state of local nonprofits had us thinking about how we view the nonprofits we serve. We wanted to offer a different perspective because we believe the nonprofit sector on the Peninsula is a valuable force, making great strides to help people in need, bringing communities together, and significantly contributing to the local economy.

In 2018, with support from Ferguson Enterprises, the first-ever Report on the State of the Nonprofit Sector on the Peninsula, was published by NetworkPeninsula, a nonprofit that provides tools to help hundreds of nonprofits fulfill their missions effectively. The goal was to shine a light on the value of this sector to the health and well-being of our communities, as well as to the economy. It did just that. Results from 126 nonprofits showed that 49% of nonprofits had created NEW positions in the last year and 37% were planning to create NEW positions in the current year. Nonprofits also play a significant role in providing retirees in our communities with opportunities to stay active through volunteering. Our survey found that 74% of our nonprofits have retirees as volunteers for their programs.

Our communities are strong in large part when our nonprofits are strong. In the fall, we will hear State of the City Addresses from across the region. Many will focus on the success of the for-profit sector. What sometimes goes unsaid is that the nonprofit sector is vital to this success. The value of successful businesses lies in their employees. Those employees, before taking a job, will check the area in which he or she will live, how good the schools are, how safe the streets are, how active the community life is, etc. Our nonprofits have a hand in all of that, providing before and after school programs, job training, services for the disabled, housing assistance, youth programs, recreation programs, arts & culture programs, animal welfare, and so much more.

Are nonprofits struggling? The short answer is yes. The complete answer is that while the challenge to build their capacity is real, so too is the work being done in this area.

Our nonprofits are seeking out opportunities to meet this challenge head on. Emerging and established leaders are participating in Leadership Cohorts to learn how to truly lead and not just manage their team, while also helping to create new leaders from within. Nonprofit staff at all levels are increasing their knowledge and expertise on vital topics through the new Nonprofit Management Institute at Thomas Nelson Community College. Newer nonprofit leaders are being matched, through a new Mentorship Program, with seasoned nonprofit leaders who have a significant track record of success in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofit staff, Board members, and volunteers are attending monthly continuing education workshops to learn how to diversify their funding, increase donor engagement, and build their capacity to remain sustainable. Lastly, Board members are participating in Board Development Classes to better understand the roles, responsibilities, and rewards of serving on a nonprofit Board and how they can best serve as an Ambassador for the cause.

But while nonprofit leaders continue to work tirelessly to meet increasing demand for services, and to develop strategic partnerships, we believe there is work to be done from the outside in. We encourage local businesses to be open to hearing other voices with different vantage points on an issue. Our nonprofits are doing some innovative work to make impactful, long-lasting changes. Don’t discount smaller nonprofits because they are new or small or you perceive them to be duplicating services. More often than not, they are providing a different piece of the puzzle for children, seniors, families, and our communities, on the pathway to wholeness.

NetworkPeninsula believes strong nonprofits are key to healthy, vibrant communities and that takes the support of the entire community. We also believe nonprofits should be honored, celebrated, and supported by everyone who is able to give of their time, talent, or treasure, no matter how much or how little.

If an acronym is needed, we choose STaR – because our nonprofits are Strong, Tenacious, and Resilient! NetworkPeninsula looks forward to continuing our efforts to ensure they remain sustainable, able to continue the valuable work they do.

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