Welcome back from what we at MKCREATIVE hope was only a three-day weekend from your work. The political talk around the long weekend was the hold on the jobless number at 9.6%, despite production and sales numbers that continue to suggest an expanding economy. The reason the numbers for July-August are being treated as especially foreboding is that these are the last medium-term numbers before the November mid-term elections, so the Democratic Party has to live with them while the out-of-power Republicans argue about how little the Democrats have been able to turn the economy around. Rather than delve into the political fray, though, we want to point out that the not-for-profit sector of the economy continues to show a growth that is slightly better than the for=profit business sector. Such contrasts are not significant enough to move overall unemployment numbers down, but they show both the ongoing strains in the economy and the possibilities for the not-for-profit sector to offer both job-creating stimuli and mission-based opportunities to rebuild communities.
Steve Gunderson, president and chief executive officer of the Council on Foundations, argues that philanthropic groups, which are usually situated within communities and ready to respond flexibly to community-centered issues, are excellent economic engines. Indeed, the treasuries of most such organizations have swelled over the last 10-15 years, despite the structural problems of credit within the economy.
With more than 700 community foundations, their potential impact is great. Giving to community foundations has skyrocketed from $183-million in 1981 to more than $4-billion in 2009. But it takes more than dollars to create the jobs that accelerate and secure economic recovery.
Our focus should be on small business. The National Federation of Independent Business reports that as many as 80 percent of new jobs each year come from small businesses. But small businesses are being choked by lack of access to credit and capital to keep or increase employment. Philanthropy can change that. Philanthropy has a big job-making toolkit, with new tools added all the time. A few of these powerful tools include donor-advised funds; low-profit limited liability corporations, which are big-minded small businesses; and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.
All of these ‘tools,’ he continues, allow flexibility and scalability that big businesses and corporations are unwilling to engage in at the moment. Indeed, in the darkest days of the Great Recession, many states encouraged the formation of “low-profit limited-liability companies” (L3Cs) meant to ally small for-profit businesses with federal and private grants that keep the businesses solvent and encourage them to engage in relevant socially/environmentally/economically/educationally… responsible policies. Despite efforts to get federal backing or encouragement with the designation ‘L3C,’ at the moment it remains a state-by-state concern.
Nevertheless, the not-for-profit sector continues to outpace the for-profit economy in job growth, and has done so since 2007, when the first signs of stresses in the credit/loan/housing markets were evident: “Nonprofit job growth during the recession wasthan it had been from 2001 to 2007, when nonprofit jobs grew by an average of 2.3 percent a year compared with 2.5 percent per year growth during the recession years (2007 to 2009).” Much of that growth surely came from people moving (read: ‘being forced to move’) from positions in for-profit companies to not-for-profits), but the skills and insights that they brought with them might be just the tools that can continue to drive growth in the not-for-profit sector and bring about some social good in the process.
And for those looking for positions in the not-for-profit sector, please click here for a list of jobs (grouped by states) posted at The Foundation Center’s website.
Welcome to fall, to the school year, and to the climax of the baseball season.