Tis the season of giving. Whether through special donations for the holidays or end-of-the-year giving to reduce taxes, many residents of La Plata County are opening their hearts and their pocketbooks to nonprofit charitable organizations throughout the community.
Generally, we think of giving to nonprofits as a one-way street. Yet nonprofit companies give back to our communities in more ways than we may notice.
Our society has been described as a three-legged stool the private sector, the public sector and the nonprofit sector. Without the strength of each of these sectors, our communities suffer.
The purpose of nonprofit companies is to fulfill a particular mission for the public good. They respond to needs in our communities, and as much as they often rely on the private and public sectors to fulfill their mission, they also make unique contributions to the economic health of our society.
Without nonprofit companies, the private and public sectors would struggle. Our governmental agencies cannot respond to every need in the community. By partnering with nonprofits, the public sector is able to address community needs such as housing, food, crisis intervention and health and disabilities services more effectively and often far more efficiently.
Private businesses also benefit from the presence of nonprofit companies. Nonprofits employ a significant number of people who live, shop and acquire services in their community. For example, Community Connections, the fourth largest nonprofit company in Southwest Colorado, has 94 employees in La Plata County alone and contributes more than $2 million to the local economy.
The services provided by nonprofits also support the needs of employees in the private sector. Beyond the benefits offered by an employer, an employee looks to the community to provide such services as support for a family member with a disability, access to the arts, adult education or health services. When nonprofit companies exist to provide such services, both the employee and employer benefit.
Nonprofit companies are an essential component of a healthy community in La Plata County and are an economic driver. Although the revenues generated go back into the mission of the company rather than to an owner or shareholders, nonprofits are businesses like any others. They have boards of directors that oversee the direction of the business as well as CEOs and CFOs to manage the operations, governance and funding of the company.
When you contribute to one of more than 350 nonprofits in La Plata County, it is likely that the majority of our contribution will be spent within our county. With many nonprofits, your local contribution also is added to grants and funding sources from outside the area. Nonprofits that receive funding from outside sources are adding that revenue to the economic base of our local community.
As you give to charitable organizations this December and in the future, know that your generosity not only improves the efforts of the particular recipient of your gifts, but it contributes to the general health of the community in which we all live.
Tara Kiene is the director of case management with Community Connections Inc.