**This was originally published at Citizen Patriot Response.
Nonprofit organizations such as the Red Cross, National Rifle Association, and Amnesty International are most known for the charitable work they perform through their branches around the country. Often credited with respectively caring for the sick, protecting constitutional rights, and fiercely guarding human rights, these organizations are among the most well-known in the world when folks think of nonprofits. However, the small organizations— that small nonprofit in your community, run by volunteers, who are making a difference on a seemingly smaller scale— fail to receive the credit and attention they deserve. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that these small nonprofits have the power to energize your regional economy.
In 2011 in Maryland’s Montgomery County, nonprofit workers made up 10% of the workforce and earned a collective $2.2 billion; most of this money was spent at local businesses. Even in the midst of the recession and slow recovery, nonprofit laborers in Montgomery County continued to increase— as the overall number of workers in the county dropped by nearly 12,000 employees from 2007 to 2011, the nonprofit sector rose from 39,769 workers in 2007 to 43,371 in 2011.
The benefits of having a nonprofit in your community are substantial. A study by Nonprofit Montgomery (with support from the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development and the Department of Health and Human Services) found that the county’s nonprofits had $4 billion in purchasing power. In this respect, nonprofits are no different than both businesses and local consumers; these groups even hold conferences and seminars to further benefit the community, bringing people in from out of town and training others on how to make an impact in their area. However, rather than focus on bringing in the big bucks, these nonprofits are focused on making a difference— and, no matter the difference you see on the surface, are doing an incredible job of it.
Creating jobs and generating income aren’t the only benefits of local nonprofits; organizations such as the Montgomery Coalition for Adult English Literacy serves 20,000 people a year by teaching them the basics of the English language. Without this skill, it would be virtually impossible for those people to find jobs anywhere to support themselves and their families. The real impact of nonprofit organizations goes far beyond what most people realize; they directly and indirectly support local, state, and regional economies while at the same time helping people in need. Ever heard of the government accomplishing so much?
The government is not the answer to the number of poor, homeless, struggling people in our communities. The answer is more nonprofit organizations to step in and make the real changes that need to be made; rather than send a check and hope it goes to those in need, nonprofits provide a hands-on approach to solving these issues that will eventually cripple this country. The complacency many have accepted when it comes to government assistance may well have to do with the fact that they fail to see the effect nonprofits can have on their community; they think of them as something needed in addition to government assistance rather than instead of it. In actuality, nonprofits accomplish more and make more positive differences than the government has ever dreamed possible.