Guest Post: Why Nonprofits Matter…

NED 43_NY_Front Cover_FINAL_2.27.2014-page-0We’re always looking for data with impact, and this report, about the positive economic impact of nonprofits in Westchester, has it in spades.

Full disclosure: we were asked by Nonprofit Westchester to help advise on this report. Not only were we flattered, but we also realized that it was an opportunity too good for us to pass up. When people think of nonprofits, they usually think of the direct services that they provide to people in need. However, nonprofits also provide a positive impact to the local economy. And a healthy economy can be an environment where children and families can thrive.

We invited Joanna Straub, Executive Director of Nonprofit Westchester, to post as a guest blogger this week. She graciously agreed. Thank you, Joanna!



In case you missed it, Nonprofit Westchester teamed up with The Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Societies Studies and in March published “Westchester County Nonprofits: A Major Economic Engine.” The Westchester Community Foundation funded the $15,000 study.

In delivering the findings of an economic impact study throughout Westchester County, some of the recurring responses I’ve heard so far include: “Wow, I’m surprised,” and “This is important information.”

But my favorite is “Thank you.”

Nonprofit Westchester clearly believes that the findings are interesting and important – that’s why we commissioned the study. And let’s face it, a thank you always goes a long way, particularly in our line of work.

Nonetheless, we intuitively knew that our sector was a vibrant part of the local economy. Now we have tangible numbers that are sure to help so many nonprofits as they, in so many cases, provide more services in a competitive era when there’s dwindling resources.

Ever since the report has gone public, we’ve coined a phrase: We’re not only important to business; we’re in business of life. The findings support this.

The major takeaway is that the nonprofit sector employs nearly 54,000 people. For perspective, that’s more than retail, tourism, local government, construction, finance, real estate and other industries. It’s more than six-times as many workers as the county’s real estate and information technology fields; more than three times as many as the finance industry, and 10 percent more than local governments.

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If that’s not impressive enough, the sector generated $6.9 billion in revenues and $2.7 billion in wages. Those pay checks translate into $311 million in federal taxes, $104 million in state income taxes and $21.8 million in local income taxes – funds that help support local governments and help pay for services, parks, roads and infrastructure.

How’s that for a multiplier effect?

What’s more, our study showed that between 2003 and 2013, employment in our sector grew by 8.4 percent, adding 4,203 jobs. That’s compared to an anemic 1.2 percent growth in other private sector employment, and a 9.6% decrease in government sector employment. We clearly trumped other areas.

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Too often, nonprofits are typecast as takers — those always looking for a handout. We don’t see it that way. With the numbers behind us, we can now show that we are givers – both in services we provide and the economic benefits we create.

To read the full report, visit