National Nonprofit Day – August 17, 2022 celebrates a little known yet special day for charities across the U.S.
There is a national day for just about everything. So, sandwiched in between National Tell a Joke Day and National Fajita Day, is an observance that merits being a bellwether of all days: August 17th is National Nonprofit Day. While many more people in our industry are familiar with National Philanthropy Day that falls on November 15th, too few know about National Nonprofit Day. It shouldn’t be that way.
On that day do something meaningful like thanking Nonprofit staff members or volunteers who are all around us, but also recognize that Nonprofits deserve our respect, admiration and support 365 days a year.
The sentiment can be summed up in this simple but powerful truth: When Nonprofits do well, we all do well. There is no part of the quality of life they don’t enrich and make better. They embody the best spirit and values of our nation. During the pandemic, we have seen Nonprofits turn up the volume and do even more to help those who are struggling.
Why celebrate on August 17th? Because that’s the date the Tariff Act of 1894 was signed into law. It imposed the first federal income tax on corporations, which included exemptions for Nonprofits and charitable institutions.
My perspective on the subject is personal. For the better part of the last three decades, I’ve enjoyed the privilege of working in the Nonprofit world, holding advancement positions and raising money for higher education institutions. It was instructive, challenging and enormously fulfilling. Then in 2018 I decided to combine two passions: Teach the art and science of fundraising with the desire to venture out on my own by launching Eskin Fundraising Training.
After conducting more than 150 workshops and webinars and working with hundreds of board members, volunteers and staff from a broad cross-section of organizations, my appreciation and admiration for the Nonprofit sector has only deepened. I’m inspired by these men and women who selfless devotion in their unwavering commitment to improve the lot of others. Toiling away in relative obscurity, they’re genuine unsung heroes.
Though voluntary organizations endorsed by private contributions have existed in the U.S. since the mid-eighteenth century, they have only recently become an omnipresent part of American society. As recently as 1940, there were only 12,500 secular charitable tax-exempt organizations. Today, there are more than 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the nation — this includes all 501(c) designations from churches and cultural centers to food banks and disaster relief organizations. There are more than 100,000 Nonprofits in Texas alone.
Their story is compelling. The sector represents 10 percent of the American workforce or about 12 million jobs making it the third largest workforce in the U.S., behind retail and manufacturing.
You won’t get rich working for a Nonprofit, but the level of job satisfaction I is much higher than among American workers as a whole. A survey by Classy, creator of online fundraising software for Nonprofits, reveals that 84% of Nonprofit employees are satisfied in their current roles at their organizations. Those involved with their organization’s fundraising efforts are especially satisfied, with 92% of this cohort expressing contentment. This contrasts with just 51% of all employees reporting that they were satisfied with their jobs.
There are so many more people who toil for Nonprofits, they’re just not paid. America is blessed with a gigantic army of dedicated volunteers. According to data released by the Corporation for National and Community Service, 77.4 million Americans, or 30 percent of the adult population, give 6.7 billion hours of volunteer service worth $167 billion.
These volunteers set an amazing example. As champions of good causes whose time and resources are already stretched, they keep finding ways to give more time and more money to better the lives of others. And they do so with smiles on their faces. The secret is that they are energized, not drained, by their labors of love.
Fundraisers have even more reason to love volunteers. Gifts of time, talent and treasure go hand-in-hand. The Volunteering and Civic Life in America research reveals that nearly twice the number (80%) of volunteers donate to charity as people who don’t volunteer (40%).
By the way, the term “Nonprofit” is a bit of a misnomer. Nonprofits can make a profit and should try to have some level of positive revenue to build a reserve fund to ensure sustainability. The key difference between Nonprofits and for-profits is that a Nonprofit organization cannot distribute its profits to any private individual — although Nonprofits may pay reasonable compensation to those providing services.
Whether we like or not, the stark reality is that it is likely that government’s role and funding in meeting escalating human service needs will continue to shrink and it will be up to Nonprofits to fill gaps to ensure that people in need and pressing issues aren’t abandoned.
I can’t wait for each new day to partner with Nonprofit staff and volunteers to develop more resources so that they can extend the impact of their noble missions. Their passion for their respective causes gives them the most essential tool to be effective fundraisers. Armed with the Jeffersonian virtues of a “knowing head and an honest heart,” they can effectively tell their stories, nurture relationships, and ask for and obtain gifts.
Nonprofits are all around us and improving the world through advances in education, healthcare, arts and culture, economic development, animal welfare, human services, seniors, children and other important areas. They remind us that more is possible and that we can take matters into our own hands and make the world a better place to live, one person and one community at a time. If you’re not already contributing time and money to a Nonprofit, there couldn’t be a better time than August 17th to add your voice to the Nonprofit movement and magnify good works.
Jim Eskin’s consulting practice, Eskin Fundraising Training builds on the success of his more than 150 fundraising workshops and webinars and provides the training, coaching and support services that nonprofits need to compete for and secure major gifts. He has authored 100 guest columns that have appeared in daily newspapers, business journals and blogs across the country, and publishes Stratagems, a monthly e-newsletter exploring timely issues and trends in philanthropy. Sign up here for a free subscription. He is author of 10 Simple Fundraising Lessons, which can be purchased here.
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