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Nonprofits: Social glue that sticks

by ELLI GOLDMAN HILBERT
Staff Writer | March 9, 2022 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — The Idaho Nonprofit Center has been working to provide education, advocacy and collaboration supporting stronger Idaho nonprofits since 2001.

That mission hit home during a regional conference Monday in Coeur d'Alene when CEO Kevin Bailey worked with local nonprofit organizers on the theme of building trust.

“We really feel like now, hopefully coming out of this pandemic, is the time for the public to really recognize, elected officials to recognize, and donors to continue to recognize the level of impact that nonprofits have in the community,” Bailey said. “You really can’t walk more than a block without running into the impact of a nonprofit, whether it's the Chamber of Commerce or downtown revitalization.”

The message is that nonprofit groups are the backbone of any community. The work they do is what makes Coeur d’Alene a great place to live, Bailey said.

Nonprofits are active in North Idaho, with at least 814 in Kootenai County alone. Two members of the INC governing board are also from Coeur d’Alene. Vanessa Moos, CEO of Children’s Village, joined the board last month. Heidi Rogers, CEO of the Northwest Council for Computer Education, was welcomed in January of ‘21.

From Rogers’ point of view, nonprofit groups are undervalued. The public often thinks of nonprofit work as small, though nonprofits play an enormous societal role.

“Nonprofits are big business. They help support the fabric of our community,” Rogers said. “The INC helps board members, staff and directors work together to have a bigger impact.”

Kootenai County nonprofits generate over $194 million annually, and hold just under $500 million in total assets, Bailey said.

Nonprofit agencies within the county have also created about 5,000 jobs. The nonprofit sector in Kootenai County is even larger than the construction industry, Bailey said.

Challenges faced by businesses across the state, like hiring difficulties and keeping up with competitive wages, affect nonprofits as well. Part of INC’s work is educating donors about these market shifts. Grant awards and financial support from the public must increase as costs in running a nonprofit increase.

“We need to continue to remind the public that 'Hey, you’re going to see services cut, hours reduced, whether it’s your arts organization or human services,'” Bailey said. “You’re going to see less services if nonprofits can’t keep up with that demand for extra revenue.”

INC is building a statewide advocacy coalition so elected officials can help drive some important changes, Bailey said.

He calls INC board members like Rogers and Moos “passionate connectors” who are not only involved with their organizations’ missions, but often serve on city planning committees, statewide boards and in other positions that “develop real solutions to local issues.”

Moos is new to the board but is well known in the community for her work with Children’s Village.

“I’ve always followed Idaho Nonprofit Center, as a student and in my work,” Moos said. “Being on the board, it’s pretty neat to be able to contribute to the change, and be in touch. Because I work in the nonprofit sector I can help Kevin and the team really understand what’s happening.”

INC is preparing for its annual fundraiser, Idaho Gives. As facilitator of the effort, INC raised about $3.8 million last year alone. Over 600 Idaho nonprofits benefitted from the event.

It costs INC about $120,000 to run the event, Bailey said. Beyond operational expenses, all proceeds go directly to the nonprofit that each donor designates.

To participate, visit Idahogives.org.

“Our role is to pump up the role of giving, the role of philanthropy in Idaho and to give organizations across the state a chance to pump up their message, tell their story and acquire new donors,” Bailey said. “We’re hoping to cross the $4 million mark this year.”

Creating an easy way for donors to learn about and connect with nonprofits is key to a successful fundraiser, Moos said. Idaho Gives goes beyond that by assisting donors in learning how they can help their community in different ways, she said.

Visit Idahononprofits.org to connect with and support area agencies, or to access countless educational tools, such as courses in grant-writing and how to establish a nonprofit agency.

photo

ELLI GOLDMAN HILBERT/Press

Vanessa Moos, CEO of Children's Village and Idaho Nonprofit Center board member, stands with Kevin Bailey, the CEO of Idaho Nonprofit Center, following the regional conference, Monday, held at Pinkerton Retirement Specialists LLC, in Coeur d'Alene.

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