Nonprofits. To the cynical, they seem to always have their hands out. But there's more to San Luis Obispo County nonprofits than just their causes and their fund-raisers: They're a driving force in the economy, according to preliminary reports from a recent study of local nonprofits by Bill Watkins, head of UCSB Economic Forecast Project.
"The nonprofit sector has a significant impact on the local economy, bringing in at least hundreds of millions of dollars each year, according to the study," said United Way Executive Director Charlotte Alexander.
Using data supplied from the Internal Revenue Service, the study found that the number of nonprofits operating in SLO County is soaring, with more than 1,000 currently headquartered in the county. The reasons for the growth are as diverse as the services themselves, including meeting the needs of an aging population and closing the gaps created by reductions in governmental services.
"I believe, because the government isn't providing some services, the nonprofit sector is jumping up to provide those services," Alexander said. "Nonprofits are extremely efficient and effective about taking investments from community members and putting them into services for the community."
Beyond the financial impact, the study examines the number of citizens employed by nonprofits, jobs created by those jobs, and the number of people receiving a helping hand from nonprofits. Sponsors of the study include the county and the Southern California Gas company.
The finalized report will be presented at the SLO County Nonprofit Economic Impact Summit 2006 on Oct. 5 from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Embassy Suites. Breakfast is included, and the event is open to the public at a cost of $20 per person.
"Nonprofits provide invaluable services that no one else offers, and this study will verify that nonprofits are also an economic source for the community," Alexander said.