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Just as we need to understand the economic impact of tourism, of Silicon Valley, of the wine industry and construction, we need to understand the significant role that nonprofits play in our state’s economic landscape.
Nonprofits are often thought of as helping “other people.” This report reminds us that nonprofits benefit all of us. How many of us picked up a daughter at Girl Scouts or a father at an Alzheimer’s care center this week? Did our family watch Downton Abbey, Sesame Street, Nature? Use Wikipedia without fear of data intrusion? How many of us were cared for in a nonprofit hospital or health clinic, or benefited from research conducted by nonprofit health organizations?
This study reveals California nonprofits to be a deep and integral part of what makes California the uniquely vibrant state it is. With 15 percent of the State GDP, a million employees and millions of volunteers, nonprofits not only help drive the California economy, but touch the lives of every Californian every day.
Yet the nonprofit sector isn’t often known by that name. It’s known as the fight for clean air, the local hospital, Wikipedia, the legal help center, the university I went to, NPR, the campaign for LGBT rights, the counseling center, my church, the local theatre, my son’s soccer league, and the African American history museum. Partly because of this embeddedness and bottom-up character, the nonprofit sector enjoys a high degree of public confidence— more so than the for-profit business or government sectors— to provide quality services, to benefit communities, and to mirror the values held by Californians.
In short, causes do count. We nonprofits should rise to the stature we have earned, wield our influence, and make our voices heard. When nonprofits leverage our power, we use it for the collective good — to make our communities better places to live and thrive.