Using growth in the nonprofit sector to inspire donors

The nonprofit sector has been a driver of job growth in the U.S. economy.
Date Published
12/20/2013

People don’t often think of the nonprofit sector as an engine for job growth and financial stability in the U.S. It’s far more common for media outlets and other news sources to cite small businesses as the main driver of the economy. However, Nonprofit Quarterly recently published an infographic created by digital marketer and blogger Jaclyn Lambert, showing the strength of nonprofit organizations in supporting the national economy. This information can have a significant impact on donor participation, as many individuals aren’t aware of the impact nonprofit groups have on the overall employment outlook and financial welfare of local and national regions.

Getting the message out to individual donors
It’s important for charitable and philanthropic organizations to spread awareness of the benefits that the nonprofit sector provides, especially when appealing to individual donors. Fundraising expert and consultant Claire Axelrad wrote on her blog that nonprofit groups need to keep those who contribute smaller donations in mind when developing their fundraising campaigns. In fact, Axelrad cited the example of the nonprofit Heifer International, which is dedicated to ending hunger and poverty, and sees 80 percent of its funding stem from small donations.

While this tactic might require a larger donor pool to raise the same amount of money as several major gift donations, the result is increased awareness among a growing group of individuals. Awareness of a program or a nonprofit’s mission may be harder to quantify, but a more informed public can potentially become an audience that is more willing to contribute.

Nonprofits are part of the economic backbone
To take advantage of small donations and gifts, nonprofit groups need a communications strategy that highlights the impact of the nonprofit sector on communities and targeted groups. For example, the infographic referenced above highlighted the fact that the nonprofit sector injected nearly $805 billion into the U.S. economy in 2010, reflecting more than 5 percent of the gross domestic product. At the same time, nonprofit organizations employed 10.7 million employees on the payroll – 10 percent of the U.S. workforce.

Meanwhile, some of the most critical sectors are supported by nonprofit institutions. For example, 57 percent of nonprofit employees work in health care, 15 percent are employed in education and 13 percent operate in social assistance nonprofits. No matter which demographic people fall in, nearly everyone is affected by these sectors in some capacity. Nonprofit organizations should work to show how ingrained the nonprofit sector is in the daily lives of donors and the extent to which their quality of life would be impacted without the work of charitable and philanthropic groups. This is especially important when appealing to individuals for small contributions.

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