Already slammed by rising demand for services and greater reluctance by givers to give, nonprofits are taking a particularly harsh hit from state and local governments, and they need to speak up about the indispensable role they play in our communities and the economy.
That is the urgent message in a new report from the National Council of Nonprofits, reported today in the Philanthropy Journal.
Despite employing 13.5 million people, buying billions of dollars in goods and services, and providing services like job training, day care and elder care that make it easier for people to get and keep jobs, the report says, nonprofits operate off the radar screen.
Nonprofits, in short, do a lot of the heavy lifting in taking on the symptoms and causes of tough and deep-seated social and global problems, yet they often are taken for granted.
Adding insult to injury is the treatment nonprofits are getting from state and local governments, which are cutting funds for basic services, shifting the cost burden for those services to nonprofits, withholding payments they owe nonprofits for contractual services they already have delivered, and considering new fees and taxes on nonprofits that will reduce their operating funds.
The National Council for Nonprofits calls on government officials to educate themselves about nonprofits and give them a greater policymaking voice.
It also asks foundations to get community leaders together to better understand the role nonprofits play and the financial pain state and local government are inflicting on them.
And it urges nonprofits to speak up, champion their own cause and push for the resources and partnerships they need.
Nonprofits are indeed indispensable, and they should be smart and assertive about telling their story and making their case for support.