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Nonprofits provide long-term benefits for all

By Lynn Hoffman
Idaho Nonprofit Center

While enjoying the beautiful fall weather and wonderful sounds of the Sun Valley Jazz Jamboree just a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but marvel at the impact nonprofits have on our everyday lives.

As a child I was involved with Girl Scouts, building relationships and learning valuable skills that still apply today. Youth groups played a big part in shaping my teenage years. Now here I am as an adult, enjoying a thriving arts community in southern Idaho. I am blessed to live in an area with many wonderful nonprofit organizations that improve the quality of my life and the lives of my family and neighbors.

When I think about the impact of our nonprofits, I realize that we often think of giving to nonprofit organizations – whether it is our time, money or resources – as a selfless act, helping those “less fortunate” than ourselves. But it’s not just that. Giving of yourself to a nonprofit is truly a selfish act, because nonprofits benefit us personally in so many ways.

Nonprofits provide long-term, valuable contributions to the quality of life in Idaho communities. In the current economy, cities are looking for ways to attract and retain businesses. During the 2009 Boise Chamber of Commerce Leadership Conference, attendees were offered the opportunity to hear how site consultants who evaluate business communities throughout the nation perceive the Treasure Valley.

Not surprisingly, the Boise Metropolitan Area is listed as a rising star in the mountain states for business communities, and quality of life amenities are high on the list of strength attributes. Boise’s open spaces, access to recreation, healthy community arts, and family programs – all nonprofit initiatives – play a big part in the area’s economic development.

My guess is that oftentimes we partake in an activity or community event and don’t realize it is developed and organized by a nonprofit. With all the programs and nonprofits in the area, it’s difficult to be aware of them all, but we are working to change that.

Nonprofit Awareness Week is an annual statewide collaborative initiative held the second week in November. This is your opportunity to raise awareness of the positive contributions of our state’s nonprofits and the importance of the nonprofit sector to Idaho.

Take time this week as a business or community member benefiting from nonprofits to stand up and say “here they are, look what they are doing!” Download and post a Nonprofit Awareness Week support flier at your place of business, attend a nonprofit’s open house, or write a letter to the editor supporting our area nonprofit organizations.

And the next time you enjoy our clean river, see a play or dance performance, take your child to swim at the YMCA, or visit someone in the hospital, remember to say thank you. Tell your friends and business associates about the great programs and initiatives. Most importantly, support them generously, in any way you can.

For more ideas on how to celebrate Nonprofit Awareness Week Nov. 7 to 13, or to download and print a support flier, visit www.idahononprofits.org.
Lynn Hoffmann is the executive director of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, a statewide association dedicated to strengthening the nonprofit sector in Idaho through training and education, public policy, and collaboration initiatives.

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