August 31, 2020
Today the unemployment rate in this country is at nearly 11 percent. This translates to 16.3 million people being unemployed. And across the globe the unemployment rate is over 9 percent … exceeding all values since the Great Depression. We know families are struggling with access to child care and so many who have a choice are uncertain if they should send their children to school or keep them home to ensure their safety. Parents of children with disabilities are deeply concerned that their children will fall behind without their critical educational and developmental supports. People are struggling with their mental health in unprecedented numbers, with over 45 percent of people saying that they are experiencing anxiety and depression.
Jobs, education and health—the major components of long-term social and economic well-being are all in question for so many.
I lay this out because I strongly believe that the nonprofit community has an integral role to play in the recovery of our nation and our world. We know how to help people become job ready in new growth sectors, and we can leverage our relationships with business to help people find jobs. We provide child care and child development services to the most vulnerable. We provide educational services spanning the age spectrum. We assist individuals struggling with mental health and substance use disorders find their way forward.
The nonprofit community IS THE COMMUNITY most needed to fill gaps in our current opportunity landscape.
As the world struggles to regain its footing, even as COVID-19 seems unwilling to give up any ground, nonprofits are stepping up—and we need to continue to do so, even though the times seem perilous. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone and according to the Stanford Social Innovation Review, many nonprofits are facing an unprecedented demand for services. We have the opportunity to make a significant and sustainable impact if we thoughtfully and planfully examine our environment and put a stake in the ground—deciding to provide the right service, in the right way, with the right intensity to individuals who need it the most. We might need to let go of some things we once did in order to provide what is needed now.
Yes, there have been disruptions in our funding streams—and this likely will continue. Yes, there has been some hesitancy in the philanthropic environment to fund new endeavors. And yes, staff and clients alike face uncertainty. But this is the time when character and smart leadership shows. When commitment to something bigger than ourselves seems all the more relevant and allows us to do things we never thought possible. This is the time for nonprofits to develop new and powerful partnerships with business, with media, with banking and with local community leaders. We are a critical and needed component of the recovery process and what we do matters.