We’re Number Three!

| by Mendi Nieters

Do you ever have one of those days where all the dots connect? That happened to me on Monday. I started the day with an article from The Chronicle of Philanthropy showing that nonprofits are the third-largest employer in America with 11.9 million employees.  I was so intrigued that I had to dig deeper.

Lester M. Salamon of John Hopkins University, through his Nonprofit Economic Data Project, analyzed data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to reveal the size and impact of our sector on the economy. I was intrigued to learn that nonprofits are the third largest workforce, following retail and manufacturing respectively. While I am not surprised that so many Americans are out to #DoGreatThings, I was impressed by the magnitude.

In addition, nonprofits are considered a “major industry” (5% plus of the workforce) in all but one state, and in North Carolina, nonprofits account for 8.8% of the workforce.  Nonprofits have also been gaining ground.  Since 2012 they have increased their percentage of employment, outpacing industries such as finance, wholesale trade, and manufacturing.

Even with this growth, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding surrounding nonprofits. Multiple times over my career I have been asked if I get paid to work at a nonprofit. I have also heard many people say that nonprofits are not real businesses. With 11.9 million employees working for nonprofits, I would say we are not only big business, but enhance and impact our communities in many ways.

The dots connected at the end of the day when the Armstrong McGuire team had the pleasure of sitting around the table with the leadership team of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.  The goal of the conversation was simply to connect and share. Over the past 9 months, the Center has been actively listening to its members and their communities to hear about the major issues facing nonprofits across the state to develop ways to collectively face these issues.

Our conversation was lively covering a span of topics, but towards the end we talked about the importance of promoting the dynamic nonprofit workforce. There were many ideas around leadership, equity, and inclusion, but one thing jumped out as a first step. We must be a champion for nonprofits just like we are a champion for the missions we serve.

To pull from the North Carolina Center of Nonprofit’s mission statement, we can all EDUCATE, CONNECT and ADVOCATE for the nonprofit community. Be a champion and go #DoGreatThings

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