On Philanthropy: Cycle of Support

Working together toward a healthy, vibrant community

small wood figurines falling like dominoes with the one on the end bracing to stop the next from fallingCONTRIBUTED BY AFPSEWI
JULY 17, 2020 ISSUE

Sitting down at my computer after a digital-free ‘holiday’ weekend resulted in some surprises. Emails to several fellow nonprofit professionals were followed by auto-replies, not due to vacations but as a result of furloughs and layoffs.

Unfortunately, this means the nonprofit sector is suffering, at a time when it is most needed.

The CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) financially stabilized many organizations over the last several months. Still, the loss of revenue from event cancellations, volunteer activity reductions, corporate sponsorship withdrawals, foundation grant redirections, and donor financial limitations has driven many nonprofits to difficult decisions.

At what lingering cost?

Nonprofits offer balance in a for-profit economy by filling the much-needed voids within the community. Nonprofits provide for the under-served, protect the vulnerable, heighten opportunities, enhance the environment, and support vital causes that generate little revenue.

Nonprofits are essential not just to economic balance, but to the sheer practice of humanity. 

When nonprofits suffer, the domino effect can be an endless stream of heartache, not only to those they serve but to the economy that depends on these individuals as employees and consumers. The vitality of our nonprofits, our communities, and our economy are all deeply interwoven. This endless cycle of reliance is humbling – and something we all must protect.

The good news: for now, the infrastructure of recovery remains strong.  Strong partnerships already exist. As a mixed system of healthy corporate competition, strong foundational investments, and social justice-focused nonprofit ideals we can maintain a healthy, vibrant community of continuous and lasting support for each other.

On Philanthropy appears monthly in the Milwaukee Business Journal for the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter. This month’s column is contributed by Leona Knobloch, MBJ 40 under 40 Alum (2011).