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Opinion: Businesses are critical to nonprofit success

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Aug. 17 is National Nonprofit Day, an opportunity to recognize the life-changing work and positive impact organizations have on southwest Missouri and the world.

Those who start nonprofit organizations are often driven by personal experience and passion. For instance, after dealing with the loss of his father to cancer, Shawn Askinosie helped establish Lost & Found Grief Center, a nonprofit providing support to grieving individuals and families. Another example is local businesswoman Joy Lamberson-Klock. After her personal struggles with ovarian cancer, she launched GYN Cancers Alliance, a local organization that provides resources and support to women and their families affected by gynecologic cancers.

Hospitals and private universities are typically the most prominent nonprofit organizations in communities, but they aren’t the most common. Most are smaller and lesser-known human service organizations, working quietly behind the scenes to tackle important and complex issues.

These organizations, as well as hundreds of others like them throughout this area, work tirelessly to assist the hurting, hungry and homeless. They offer programs and services to protect the environment, promote cultural arts, educate children, assist victims, and help create more equitable and thriving communities.

Nonprofits go where others can’t or won’t go. They do what others can’t or won’t do.

Many believe all nonprofits are just poor, volunteer-run organizations operating out of someone’s kitchen or a broom closet. They are surprised to learn that per Cause IQ, there are about 1.8 million organizations in the nation, employing more than 10% of the total workforce, according to a 2019 report by Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. In Springfield, there are almost 3,000 registered nonprofits, per Cause IQ. Beyond providing quality jobs, these organizations contribute significantly to our region’s economic development. They pay rent and lease buildings, pay taxes on unrelated business income, purchase goods from other businesses and offer valuable services at low or no cost. Their programs and services attract people to this region who, in turn, spend money on hotels, restaurants and other items.

For all their hard work and dedication, nonprofits cannot succeed without community support. The phrase collective impact describes how social issues and concerns are addressed when a network of organizations, institutions and companies join forces and work together toward a common cause.

In other words, we’re better when we work together.

Just as nonprofits have a responsibility to fulfill their missions, companies have a responsibility, too. By supporting organizations, you are making an investment in individuals and neighborhoods in your community.

If you’re unsure how to get started, here are four ways every company can support local nonprofits.

  1. Volunteer. Nonprofits rely on individuals to assist with a variety of tasks.

Find an organization with a cause your employees care about and give them time off so they can get involved. When employees participate in community volunteerism, they have improved teamwork, better workplace satisfaction and higher retention rates, according to a Deloitte survey.

Civic engagement is also important to prospective employees and can be an effective recruiting tool for companies.

  1. Serve on the board. Nonprofit board service is a great way to make a meaningful contribution to a cause and the community. It gives individuals a chance to share their skills, grow in their knowledge of important community issues, interact with people outside their typical networks and develop new leadership skills.
  2. Partner. For-profit companies can create collective impact by locking arms with nonprofits. For instance, banks can partner with organizations focused on financial literacy. Mental health providers can assist victims of violence and abuse. Technology companies can support nonprofits with software training and support.

Partnerships can include professional development, pro bono services and free office space for organization training or events. Sharing your company’s resources can greatly enhance a nonprofit’s capacity and impact.

  1. Sponsorships and support. Nonprofit fundraising and awareness rely on public events like walks/runs, golf tournaments and galas. Corporate sponsorships help make special events a success, and they provide an excellent platform to demonstrate your company’s commitment to the local community.

On this National Nonprofit Day, take time to learn about the important work being done by organizations and consider getting involved. All of us have an opportunity and a responsibility to make southwest Missouri a better place for everyone.

Dan Prater is a senior managing consultant at FORVIS LLP. He can be reached at


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