As National Philanthropy Day will soon be upon us, I wanted to tell you a personal story about the efforts of a small group of donors, staff and volunteers and the impact they are having on a small town in the American desert. I am in southern California this week for the opening of the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. I am proud to be a Founder of this Center.
This is the story of how a team of individuals through philanthropy are having an economic impact on a town that has gone from a pleasant resort community to a recognized international jewel of modern architecture and design.
Economic impact? Firstly, in the case of this new Center, there were the initial expenditures of labour and materials to restore this classic mid-century modern building to its former glory. Secondly, there are the large number of people who will travel to Palm Springs specifically to visit this Center and leave their dollars in the community. Thirdly, there is the potential to revitalize this area of Palm Springs with new businesses around the Center that will have an even greater economic impact. That’s what I call stretching your donor dollar.
Staff and volunteers of charities sometimes forget the economic impact of their work beyond fulfilling the mission. Imagine Canada states that there are approximately 170,000 charities and not-for-profits in Canada that employ 2 million people representing over 11% of the economically active population. The charitable sector in Canada represents $106 Billion or over 8% of Canada’s annual GDP. The sector is larger than either the automotive industry or manufacturing in Canada.
It is very important to keep in mind when one is recruiting community volunteers or drafting a fundraising proposal to include the “hard” facts of the economic impact of your organization in addition to the “softer” mission-based information. Do the organizations you support, volunteer or work for have this information? Do they know how to find it?
As we near National Philanthropy Day, I would suggest that the “hard” facts need to be determined and promoted by all charities and not-for-profits to show the great economic impact of philanthropy to local communities and society as a whole.
More information on the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center can be found at http://www.psmuseum.org/architecture-design-center/