The Role of New Hampshire’s Non-Profit Sector

Editor’s Note: The N.H. Center for Nonprofits is an advocate and capacity builder for the state’s entire non-profit sector. This week it released a position statement on the state budget process that we believe is an important addition to the discussion. We are pleased to reprint it here.

NH Center for Nonprofits Position on the State Budget: April 2011

The Role of the Nonprofit Sector
The nonprofit sector of New Hampshire is an integral partner, with business and government, in ensuring the state meets its moral and ethical obligations to individuals and communities. During these difficult economic times the need for services has escalated as the recession has caused many economic and personal hardships.

Nonprofits touch everyone’s life.  Nonprofits provide services for veterans, child care, affordable housing, and safety for victims of violence, response to natural disasters, health care for low-income families, senior transportation, mental health treatment, and much more. Nonprofits ensure natural resources are protected, clean water is available, forests are maintained. Nonprofits provide artistic and cultural experiences which fuel our minds revitalize communities and attracting business and visitors to NH.

As an industry, the nonprofit sector employs 1 out 8 NH workers (98,523 people), contributes more than $8 billion or 14.5 % of the state’s GDP and leverages the talents of more than 334,000 volunteers a year.  Charitable dollars, corporate support and fees for service support only a portion of the services the state relies on to meet its social contract to people and communities.  The state funds and provides critical services to people and communities through a contractual relationship with nonprofits.

The Center’s 2011 Position on the State Budget Process
We recognize that the current state budget challenges are significant. Solutions require all three sectors to make sacrifices, develop new business strategies, innovate, and commit to preserve what is core to our economic and social well-being. Over the past two years nonprofits have lowered salaries, re-structured and intensified collaboration.  Business and government have responded with similar strategies. Government’s response must also include strategies to uphold the essential role government plays in fulfilling its social contract to protect and provide for those-in-need and sustain our communities.

As policy makers develop the state budget our position is as follows:

  • Nonprofits must be part of the solution. It is the responsibility of nonprofits to continually seek greater efficiencies, conduct assessments, report on outcomes and engage in a transparent process of collective planning with government and business to develop future models.
  • Budget decision-making requires accurate data on how services are funded. Charitable donations to NH nonprofits cover only a fraction of the cost. Of the total amount of charitable giving in NH ($505 million) only 9% of which is donated to human services, 4% to the arts and 1% to the environment, according to recent IRS data.
  • The proposed drastic budget reductions will jeopardize the health and safety of vulnerable children, youth, adults and seniors who rely on vital services, and will negatively affect the quality of life in our communities.
  • The Center calls on elected leaders to adopt a balanced approach, which includes an equal commitment to measures which reduce costs and measures which ensure adequate resources, are in place to protect individuals, families and sustain communities.
  • The strategy of downshifting costs will result in unintended economic and social consequences when programs which support community growth are closed and vital services which vulnerable individuals and families rely on are no longer available or they are placed on a waiting list.
  • The long-range impact and costs of weakening the already fragile infra-structure which supports the delivery of services must be fully explored by policy makers during decision making.
  • Churches and volunteers always will play a key role in supporting communities and humanistic needs, but they do not have the capacity to absorb cuts of a significant magnitude. Due to the complexity and scope of the services provided by today’s nonprofits sector professional staff, adequate infra-structure and a strong partnership with government are essential.

Solutions for the future will be found through a shared commitment by all three sectors to transparent analysis, collective planning and collaboration. The NH Center for Nonprofits will continue to work with nonprofits to provide policy makers, and the public, with information and data about the sector, the impact of budgets choices, and the capacity of nonprofits to fulfill society’s mission and serve those in need.

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