South Florida Hospital News
Sunday May 26, 2019
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July 2010 - Volume 7 - Issue 1

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Taking the “Non” Out of Nonprofits

Investing in this climate makes even the bravest Wall Street warriors queasy, but what if that investment could be in a trillion-dollar a year industry experiencing record demand?

An industry that accounts for close to 5 percent of the GDP, 8 percent of the nation’s wages, and nearly 10 percent of jobs: One with bipartisan political support and one being championed by the President.
 
70,000 Strong
In these gloomy economic times few in the for-profit world consider the nonprofit industry an area for growth potential, but the more than 70,000 nonprofit organizations in Florida are an important and vital part of our economy and a market worth exploring.
It’s important to remember that in 2005, 50% of nonprofit revenues were fees for services and aside from generating significant earnings, nonprofits across the nation had more than $1.3 trillion in total expenses in 2007: That’s a lot of money out the door, with much of it into for-profit pockets.
 
Measuring the Bottom Line
Despite these concrete economic facts, the for-profit and nonprofit worlds are measured very differently. For-profits measure progress in terms of profit and nonprofits in terms of positive impact. This is a situation that social entrepreneurs like Nic Frances argue places nonprofits at a distinct disadvantage because money is our measure of worth; it’s how we determine the value of all things.
 
Faced with this reality many nonprofits are working hard to give their impact a more quantifiable yardstick, often in the universal language of money. For example, few strategies have been as successful in delivering a social agenda than proscribing an economic value to carbon emissions that see reductions in green house gas emissions because of a created profit motive. In the same vein, nothing has done more for the fuel-efficient car sales than high gas prices.
 
Good Corporate Citizenship Pays Off
Another timely example is Haiti. There has never been a better time for Haiti development advocates and apparel producing businesses to put forward the argument that lifting clothing quotas on Haitian imports to the US would do more for that country’s recovery that an endless pipeline of aid.
 
These cases aside, partnerships with nonprofits offer the business sector effective marketing and exposure opportunities that prove to be increasingly more effective in a fracturing media market. The JP Morgan Chase Community Giving Program that pledged $5 million based on a voting system among charities attracted two million visitors to its Chase Facebook page and national exposure in the media.
 
Much has also been written about Pepsi’s Refresh campaign and the company’s decision to forego Super Bowl advertising for a charitable giving campaign. Dove adopted a different approach, using its Super Bowl ad investment to promote efforts to raise young girls' self-esteem. This resulted in a powerful positive brand boost and a significant outpouring of brand support.
 
These global players recognize the business benefits of a positive philanthropic brand. This is particularly true among younger generations highly cynical about advertising and brand messaging and conscious of corporate social responsibility. The growing ROI of investing in things of importance to those customers who are part of a brand means businesses need to think long and hard about where they spend their marketing dollars.
 
Local Players Make the Connection
There are those in our region who have made these connections. One such initiative is the collaboration between The Wasie Foundation and the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce that seeks to connect nonprofits with businesses in our community. Through a process of nonprofit chamber scholarships and facilitation of cross-sector dialog and meetings, The Wasie Foundation has generated real economic growth for both sectors and improved the lives of thousands of South Florida citizens served by nonprofits.
 
For-profits involved in this initiative have seen concrete results on the bottom line. They have won construction projects, infrastructure investment contracts, and a host of service sector and consultancy business. In turn, nonprofits have received tens of thousands of dollars in financial and in-kind support, and local citizens and our community are better off as a result
The Wasie Foundation and the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce present a convincing argument that investing in nonprofits is smart for the region’s business interests.
 
Ask any major employer in the region about how South Florida can make itself more attractive to business and the answers become startlingly consistent: It’s about finding qualified employees, affordable housing, and reasonable healthcare costs. These are all issues that nonprofits in our region are working to improve. Their success will be the region’s success.
 
All these factors add up to what seems to be a clear case: doing good, is good for business.
Thor Barraclough, Executive Director of the Broward Children’s Center Foundation, can be reached at (954) 410-4410 or thorb@bcckids.org or visit www.bcckids.org.
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