The nonprofit sector’s role in N.H.’s economy

Nonprofits employ one out of seven workers in New Hampshire and generate over $9 billion toward the state’s GDP

One outgrowth of the past four years of economic upheaval and political jousting is that most of us recognize that no one sector has the answer to the complex challenges facing our communities.

Nor do we know exactly how to sustain the many extraordinary advantages New Hampshire holds as we approach the serious demographic and economic shifts predicted in the next decade.

One thing we do know for sure is that innovation — to ensure a strong business climate, vibrant communities and maintain our rank as the healthiest state to raise a family — will require serious collaboration across sectors.

The viewpoint held by many nonprofit leaders is that one of the first tasks facing our state is to step forward and clarify, with data and outcome analysis, what the role and impact of the nonprofit sector is in our state.

We need to go beyond the reality that the nonprofit sector employs one out of seven workers in New Hampshire and generates over $9 billion toward the state’s GDP. We need to go beyond the fact that nonprofits help bring over $1 billion in federal funds into the state each year. And we need to go beyond the fact that our work is critical to tourism, to a healthy workforce and to ensuring the health and safety of our most vulnerable residents.

The sector’s voice

While it is a daunting challenge, we need to describe the ecosystem at work within the nonprofit sector and document the interwoven role it plays with government and business to keep not only our economy strong but position the state for future success.

We must identify ways to document the tremendous cost savings involved in intervention and prevention.

I recently heard that Chicago prison officials were assessing the number of 8-year-olds failing in elementary school as a means to determine the number of new prisons they would need. It most surely is wiser, more humanitarian and abundantly less costly to intervene with those third-graders.

In collaboration with colleagues and partners, the New Hampshire Center for Nonprofits sees its mission as helping to unify the sector’s voice and, through data and research, articulate the sector’s role.

In many ways, the nonprofit industry in New Hampshire, and across the nation, is going through what the small business community went through decades ago, when its leadership knew the value of small businesses and began to form chambers of commerce and other business associations to carry their message.

Through this column, I look forward to sharing a deeper look at the nonprofit business sector. In future columns, I will explore changes in nonprofit business models, online fundraising, boardroom strategy and trends toward practices such as high impact volunteer management. I will also share new findings on the return on investment companies are experiencing from elevated corporate-nonprofit partnerships.

I hope to also explore hot-button topics, such as the opinion that there is a “proliferation” of nonprofits, donor and board fatigue, the value of overhead and the view from around the country of the property tax exemption for nonprofits.

Categories: Business Advice, Nonprofits