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Report on Oregon's nonprofits a first step

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Robin Doussard
Wednesday, May 02, 2012


An important first step in quantifying the size and scope of the nonprofit sector in Oregon and assessing the health of that sector was taken this week with the release of the Oregon Nonprofit Sector Report, a joint effort of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) and Portland State University.

The report is based on data from Oregon’s 10,429 actively filing public charities listed in the Oregon Department of Justice database and information collected from more than 600 participating nonprofit leaders and organizations. Figures were based mostly on 2010 data. It has facts and figures on the sector’s financial health, organizational capacity, economic and social impact and more.

Some of the findings were heartening, such as nonprofits reporting that employment has stabilized after the recession. Others, less so, pointed to the stress that nonprofits face: 24% said they have less than one month of operating reserves; 51% have turned away clients; and 26% have scaled back programs.

But what is most heartening is that for the first time, there are substantial facts and numbers about this sector, which employs 166,130 people, or 13% of Oregon’s private sector employment. These are jobs in the arts, education, environment, religious groups, civil right, food, health care and others. Those 10,429 organizations have a total revenue of $13 billion.



Unfortunately, it’s a sector that gets scant recognition or attention as the significant economic force that it is. Don’t get me wrong. I think everyone greatly appreciates the work that nonprofits do. But rarely do I encounter a business group or summit that brings in the nonprofit sector as a constant, equal partner to discuss the economy of the state.

The nonprofit role in the state’s economic health is not lost on the Oregon Community Foundation, which last year expanded its priorities to include jobs and the economy. OCF is lead by some pretty smart business people including former Standard CEO Eric Parsons and Duncan Wyse, president of the Oregon Business Council. Just last week, a study commissioned by OCF and the state treasurer was released that identified the gaps in capital that affect Oregon employers. The study concluded “Oregon businesses of all sizes are facing significant hurdles when it comes to acquiring money to finance expansion and additional hiring.”

It is clear that OCF knows – like every person and every family knows – that the building block to a stable, healthy life is a job. And without more jobs, the state cannot begin to crack its chronic high unemployment, tackle the growing poverty rates (which are higher in Oregon than the national average) or address its education crisis.

It isn’t going to get an easier. As more and more social and community services once provide by state, local or federal governments are being defunded or cut back, it leaves many of the state’s nonprofits to fill the gap (the study found that 78% of public charity nonprofits serve low-income populations). And that includes the grit of the unpaid hero. The report quantified that almost 1 million Oregonians volunteered about 116 million hours to help nonprofits deliver their services.

“We are 13% of the private sector workforce, we’re an economic driver, but we’ve been silent,” says Carrie Hoops, executive director of NAO. “ I don’t think people really realize the impact of the nonprofit sector.” Hopefully, this report will help mitigate that.

Robin Doussard is editor in chief of Oregon Business and a former board member of NAO. The survey for the 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon is now under way. For details, go to Oregon100Best.com.



0 #1 RE: Report on Oregon's nonprofits a first stepAbe 2012-05-03 18:23:32
Swell, why not start Oregon Non-Profit News and forget the taxable profit makers?
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Darin Rutledge
0 #2 RE: Report on Oregon's nonprofits a first stepDarin Rutledge 2012-05-03 18:38:39
No doubt nonprofits have struggled just like their for-profit counterparts over the past few years.

It's natural for conventional businesses and NPOs to scale back capital spending and hold off on other dollar-dependen t initiatives during tough times, but the biggest red flag to me is the number of NPOs that barely have operating income, and are faced with cutting basic programs to stay viable. When you consider that the main mission of many of these organizations is in some way related to buffering their communities from the effects of things like economic depression, the snowball effect becomes very evident.

That's the interesting dichotomy: during times of economic depression, the demand side of the market for traditional business vs. nonprofits moves in opposing directions.

For that reason alone, it's encouraging that OCF and NAO have recognized that NPOs need to have a seat at the grownup table in the jobs and economy discussion.
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Martha  Perez
0 #3 General Political ActivistMartha Perez 2012-05-04 16:36:15
Non profits, are doing their part, to keep our society from falling apart. But, they can not do it all alone! We have to think of other things that need to be done, in order to stabilize our economy.
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0 #4 KAORKAOR 2012-05-06 15:36:12
"Non profits, are doing their part, to keep our society from falling apart."

Except for their employees, they don't pay taxes! Not a dime. All that money is taken out of the tax pool.

How does is help to take $13 billion out of the tax pool?
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Sharon Hasenjaeger
0 #5 the tax poolSharon Hasenjaeger 2012-05-11 15:28:57
In being converned about the loss of $13B from the tax pool,let's remember that for-profits are not usually taxed on their gross revenue, but on an amount after business expenses etc are deducted.
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David Sanford
0 #6 Director of 2012 Summer Intensive ProgramsDavid Sanford 2012-05-18 21:17:10
Thanks, Robin, for highlighting the importance of this remarkable, almost breath-taking report on Oregon's non-profits. So, what's next? I'd love to invite non-profit board members, executives, staff and volunteers to check out www.3DaysintheNon-ProfitWorld.org. This 3-credit MBA in Non-Profit Management summer intensive elective is coming up June 12-14 at Corban University. If the largely subsidized cost is any problem, please email me at dsanford]at[cor ban.edu.
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