As I sat down to write this article, I realized that it would be published on Valentine’s Day. Whether you celebrate the “holiday” or not, it’s a day that’s supposed to be dedicated to love. From the nonprofit perspective, we are always in need of a little love. We’re often looking for support in the form of donations, time and advocacy for the cause we represent.

Coincidently (or maybe not?), Tuesday, Feb. 11, was Nonprofit Day. The Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP) used the day as a way to educate Mainers about the many contributions nonprofits make to our state. Did you know that 1 in 6 Maine workers are employed by a Maine nonprofit? According to MANP’s Adding Impact report, that translates to over 98,000 nonprofit jobs, $4.7 billion annually in wages and approximately $271 million in personal income tax revenue for our state.

In fact, the nonprofit sector is the 5th largest employer in the state of Maine, with healthcare and social service organizations accounting for about 30% of those jobs and hospitals employing 37% of workers in nonprofit jobs. The third-largest piece of the nonprofit pie is education at 18%.

By definition, nonprofits are charitable organizations focused on specific missions that benefit the common good. With so many nonprofits in our state, it makes sense that these organizations would need to rely on individuals to donate money to our programs. And we do. Though Tedford Housing has revenue streams coming from private foundations, United Ways, state and federal grants and income/reimbursements from the programs and services we offer to clients, approximately 17% of our fiscal year 2019 budget came directly from individual donors.

Nonprofits are lucky in that individuals in Maine are generous. According to Maine Philanthropy Center’s Giving in Maine 2019 report for individuals, 21% of all Mainers at just about every income level report charitable giving on their taxes. Since not all giving is reported on tax returns, the report also states that it is estimated that 53% of Mainers donated $25 or more to charity in 2016. Individual giving took up the largest piece of total charitable giving in Maine in 2016 at 65%, with foundations being second at 24%.

The bottom line is that nonprofits depend on individuals like you to support our work in Maine communities. These donations not only help us fulfill our missions, but they also support the overall health of our state’s economy. This Valentine’s Day may be a good day to show a little love to a nonprofit you support. There are certainly a number of wonderful nonprofits to support with a donation just in the town of Brunswick.

If you’re not sure which nonprofit is the best match for you, don’t fret. There are some steps you can take to find that match. As a start, think about the organizations you already interact

with. If you already have a relationship with a nonprofit, thank them by taking the extra step to make a donation. Do a simple Google search to see which nonprofits are doing work in your town. Be sure to visit the nonprofit’s website to make sure its mission aligns with your core beliefs. You can also research nonprofits and their finances on Guidestar.org. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call a local nonprofit to find out more about their work and what support you could provide that would be most helpful to them. As a director of development, I can say I don’t mind at all when people call to ask questions and show interest in making the most impact with a gift.

Will you show a little love to a nonprofit to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Jennifer Iacovelli is the director of development for Tedford Housing and author of “Simple Giving: Easy Ways to Give Every Day.” Giving Voice is a weekly collaboration among four local non-profit service agencies to share information and stories about their work in the community. 

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