This week, from June 22 to June 26, 2020, The Nonprofit Partnership is hosting the inaugural Celebrate Nonprofits Week. This week is the only type of celebration in the United States that recognizes the vital work that our nonprofits and our nonprofit employees do in support of our communities.
The nonprofit sector is older than our nation itself, with one of the more notable organizations being the establishment of Harvard College in 1636. Charity, giving, volunteering, and service to others is woven into the fabric of our nation and are the foundational elements of the nonprofit sector.
Since our founding as a nation, the sector has grown into one of the most significant social and economic forces in our country. According to Independent Sector, a national nonprofit advocacy organization, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S which, combined, spend over $1 trillion annually on expenses. Those nonprofits employ 10% of our workforce nationally, making the nonprofit sector the third largest private employment sector, behind retail and food and accommodations.
In the Commonwealth, there are approximately 63,000 nonprofits. These organizations employ 15% of the workforce and generate $132 billion in annual revenue. Locally, nonprofits’ impact is even greater. In Erie County, we have more than 500 nonprofits; 17 of the 50 largest employers are nonprofits, and nonprofits employ 19% of the workforce.
Needless to say, the nonprofit sector is one of the largest and most diverse employment sectors in our country. The sector itself contributes to the economic health and vibrancy of any region, especially in Erie.
But that is not the reason the sector exists. Economic impact is only a byproduct of the work nonprofits do. The sector exists to serve our community and the common good. The sector impacts much of our lives as Americans, even if we don’t know it or think about it. Nonprofits are woven into the fabric of our communities, from taking care of our sick loved ones; giving us spiritual sustenance at houses of worship; providing enlightenment and education through arts and culture; giving support and resources to our children and families in our neighborhoods; rebuilding our economies; and so much more.
The value of the nonprofit sector could not be more apparent than during the COVID-19 crisis. Many of the faces you don’t see behind masks are nonprofit employees. Many of those organizations that are “essential” and that needed to keep their lights on and their doors open are nonprofits. Many nonprofit employees are putting their lives on the line to take care of all of us. And even though they aren’t often recognized for it, they are there and they have done us a tremendous service.
With this in mind, we at The Nonprofit Partnership ask that you take a few minutes during Celebrate Nonprofits Week to thank the tens of thousands of unsung heroes who serve our community—yourself, your nonprofit sector peers, and your board members included. Please visit the Celebrate Nonprofits Week website at celebratenonprofits.org to learn how you can celebrate and give back to the organizations that are making your community a better place.