Nevada County nonprofits help residents — and the economy |

Nevada County nonprofits help residents — and the economy

Nevada County nonprofits help the arts community thrive and down-on-their-luck residents survive, from troubled youth needing more guidance to the seriously ill in the final stages of life. And local nonprofits greatly depend on donations from businesses and residents, ensuring the less fortunate get the help they need. Overall, we’re a rather generous group in Nevada County, where people donate four percent of their annual income — or about $2,200 a person — per year to local nonprofits, from churches to food pantries and animal welfare centers, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

The commitment and those dollars have a far-reaching effect, well beyond just giving a hand to hard-hit residents. Quite simply, as nonprofits go about their mission of helping residents — perhaps a neighbor, a family member or even yourself — we’re also investing in the region.

Nonprofits employ hundreds and pack an economic punch of at least $100 million, and likely much more, according to a Center for Nonprofit Leadership of Nevada County report.

In fact, the county’s nonprofits employ several hundred people, making the sector the third-largest employer in the region, behind Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Nevada County government.

Many charities work behind the scenes with little attention until residents need them.

Of course, we understand why it’s an often-overlooked business. Many charities work behind the scenes with little attention until residents need them. But make no mistake, nonprofits — such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Habitat for Humanity and Hospice of the Foothills — are critical to the region, much like local government and small businesses.

We may not have cash registers, credit-card readers or two-for-one sales, but we help keep the community’s economic engine moving.

Local nonprofits have collective annual budgets of $75 million with almost half the dollars used for employee salaries and benefits. If you do some numbers crunching and use a rather conservative multiplier of 2.5, our nonprofits have an economic effect of almost $200 million per year with much of the money spent at local grocery stores, restaurants, service stations, shops and many other businesses.

In addition, many Nevada County residents volunteer at nonprofits. And those hours add up as well. Here are a couple of examples — the county’s 12 largest arts organizations report more than 200,000 volunteer hours annually, valued at $4.2 million, and the Retired Senior and Volunteer program is supported by more than 80,000 volunteer hours every year, valued at $1.87 million.

Whether it’s dollars in hand or giving a helping hand as a volunteer, the community’s generosity has a tremendous effect, from supporting nonprofits to improving the lives of your neighbors.

So as you celebrate the holidays, please remember that the goal of local nonprofits, their boards, executive directors, staffs and volunteers is to build an even better community. Together, with your much-appreciated and always strong support, we can help the community, each other — and the economy.

Bill Neff is Chairman of the Center for Nonprofit Leadership, a resource center for nonprofit organizations and individuals in the Nevada County area that provides professional development workshops, on-site coaching, mentoring, and public advocacy.

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