Springfield, MO

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2023 Nonprofit Outlook: Amy Blansit

CEO, Drew Lewis Foundation Inc., and Founder, The Fairbanks

Posted online

Blansit’s 2023 Projection
Last fiscal year in Missouri, the state budget included more than $128 million to serve the Greene County area. With multiple one-time infusions and reduced spending, Missouri’s stabilization funds have grown to $6 billion, giving local legislators a great opportunity to continue to support nonprofits and capital improvements that drive economic stability. 

In a recent 18-month period, 18 CEOs or executive directors of Springfield-area nonprofits vacated their positions. Is this a trend you expect to continue, and what are some ways to correct it?
We have to consider COVID. We do have a lot of individuals in the nonprofit world who had passion to start a nonprofit or took a small (nonprofit) to build, and they were nearing retirement age or realized they had fully lived the mission and maybe it was time to pass it on. The other thing to discuss is pay. It’s something that Drew Lewis Foundation has chosen to say if we can’t pay someone livable wage, then we should not be hiring a position. In the nonprofit world, we do have high turnover because we generally have service-oriented, very giving employees, meaning we often underpay them and provide lesser benefits. It will be a trend that continues if we have nonprofit boards and leaders who feel that because you’re working at a nonprofit you can be paid less than market value. Nonprofits fill a gap often between what for-profits are providing and what a community needs. Individuals working in that gap are taking on more personal stress because they’re seeing the distress of a community in the work they do. We need to make sure we’re paying them well for the emotional and physical demands.

Any tips for nonprofit directors on working with boards of directors?
When developing a board, a lot of times individuals are going to ask the question: Who has wealth or access to wealth? We need to think of a board as all the systems that a company needs: legal, accounting, (human resources). A lot of boards end up getting heavy in philanthropy. And you’ve got a lot of powerful people who have weighted opinions based on the money they bring, and when you’re mission-focused, sometimes the drive, the ego, can get in the way of what needs to happen in order to serve the population. It’s a fine balance recruiting the right board members. The CEO really needs to be the lead, and the board needs to trust that CEO and support their decisions.

What are the most important line items on a nonprofit balance sheet and why?
Human capital. When we invest in the individuals who are working for the company, we have better productivity, happier employees. In the nonprofit world, we track three things: How much money did we spend in fundraising, operations and program delivery? The people we hire will make or break our programming, our mission. We’ve got to hire the right people and pay them a competitive salary in order to deliver a mission.

What’s the status of donor fatigue and how to combat it?
It’s something we are preparing for. We’re in a decreased economy, and if we don’t begin to see some turnaround, we have put some money away for a rainy day. There are going to be a lot that will struggle or potentially not make it through 2023. If things stay the same, meaning we’re past the crippling effect of COVID, but the economy continues to decline or even stays the same, I think we’ll see a decrease in giving in 2023. An important thing is to work with the legislators who are really interested in bringing tax dollars back to our community. With our state having $6 billion in surplus, it’s a great opportunity for legislators to dig in and find out what our communities need and utilize some of those funds to make sure the gaps the nonprofits fill are supported in 2023.


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