By Lisa Lawrence
It is a privilege to join my colleagues and past Bradco High Desert Report article submitters Vici Nagel and Debbie A. Cannon, in discussing the current status and future outlook for nonprofit organizations in the High Desert region and the important connections with the business community.
So what are we facing? The National Council of Nonprofits says, “The top three trends for charitable nonprofits will continue to be: limited resources, increased demands on nonprofits, stemming from increased needs in communities; and the growing awareness that every nonprofit and board member needs to be an active, vocal advocate for his/her nonprofit’s mission.”
The national trend is magnified in our High Desert area. The issue of an underfunded Inland Empire region has been widely discussed over the past few years, particularly as it relates to foundation dollars coming into our area. The increased needs in our community, likewise, have been identified through formal processes and reported by statistics. More profoundly, we all see, hear, and read real-life stories of the people affected. These stories are what fuel those of us in the nonprofit community and our supporters.
The response to these trends has been for Inland Empire nonprofit to continue to focus on building stronger networks and collaborations. While for-profit businesses with like products and services do not necessarily work in cooperation with their “competitors,” that strategy is highly utilized and effective among nonprofit organizations. A recent Daily Press article titled “The Business of Poverty” outlined a food distribution program headed by Desert Manna in Barstow. The article described the worsening economic plight of the region, using data provided by the county, school district, nonprofit organizations, and The Bradco Companies. It also gave a beautiful illustration of nonprofit organizations working together and leveraging resources for greater impact. The logistics alone are impressive.
Another example of nonprofits working together is Academy for Grassroots Organizations (AcademyGO) and High Desert Community Foundation. Mrs. Nagel and I are the Executive Directors, respectively, and we are continually collaborating to strengthen and improve our community. AcademyGO does an outstanding job in capacity building of nonprofits through training, regular networking events, and connections to resources. At the foundation, we have over 60 projects providing services or support for: veterans, low income families, seniors, children, health, animals, education, homeless, civic efforts, arts, music, and public safety. Our foundation has directly benefitted from the services of AcademyGO, and many of our projects have grown in their ability to obtain resources, including several first time grants.
The High Desert Community Foundation also manages permanent and temporary funds for individuals, families, and businesses to impact our community both now and into the future. We are an excellent alternative to establishing your own foundation and can assist you in leaving a legacy by supporting causes you care about. We also have a thriving scholarship program and over $250,000 will be given to graduating high school seniors this year. We set up scholarships in coordination with the donor, including memorial scholarships to honor a loved one’s legacy.
The nonprofit community recognizes the continuing contributions of our businesses. Many of our High Desert businesses are already actively engaged with and supportive of nonprofit organizations and activities. Academy for Grassroots Organizations is embarking on a campaign to strengthen that vital connection and effectively build the capacity to serve and respond to the increased needs in our communities. The question of “Why are nonprofits good for business?” will also be asked and answered. Watch for more information in the coming months or contact Debbie A. Cannon through www.AcademyGO.com.
On behalf of the nonprofit community, thank you to our businesses! You are an invaluable partner in improving our High Desert region.
Lisa Lawrence is the Executive Director of the High Desert Community Foundation. For more information, visit www.hdcfoundation.org or call her at (760) 242-8877.