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Study to assess economic impact of nonprofits in county

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Hoping to prove with finite numbers that Westchester nonprofits have a meaningful impact on the Westchester County economy, a Tarrytown-based organization is awaiting a study whose results it intends to leverage to encourage more businesses to support nonprofits.

“Nonprofits provide pretty extensive and essential services in Westchester and employ a substantial number of people,” said Joanna Straub, executive director of Nonprofit Westchester, an umbrella organization that hired Johns Hopkins University Center for Civil Society Studies to perform the research. “The study is designed to provide a more precise picture with up-to-date information about the full impact of the nonprofit sector in Westchester.”

Straub recently held a sit-down conversation with nonprofits, governmental leaders and businesses to discuss the role nonprofits play in providing jobs and wages for the unemployed, especially during an economic downturn. With an increasing need for nonprofits to provide services and jobs in Westchester but a shrinking pool of resources and funding, Straub said the purpose of the economic impact study is to provide meaningful data that encourages more businesses to consider donating to nonprofits.

“If corporations and foundations can see how essential the nonprofit sector is in the roles we play and our role in the economy, then they can see another advantage to supporting the nonprofit sector when funding allocations are made,” she said. “But it’s not just about funding. It’s also about key decisions being made on policy and planning.”

The research group will analyze the wages and employment figures of the nonprofit, for-profit and governmental sectors based on the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, a survey released by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Researchers will determine what types of nonprofits exist in Westchester and how the breakdown of nonprofits has changed over time to serve the county’s various needs, said Stephanie Geller, an author of the economic impact study and research project manager at the Johns Hopkins research center.

“Nonprofits tend to be a huge employer and pay good wages – sometimes better wages than for-profits operating in the same industries,” Geller said. “Our research in other places has shown that during times of recession when the for-profit sector is cutting down, the nonprofit sector has been growing.”

The $15,000 study, which was funded by Westchester Community Foundation, is scheduled to be released in mid-February to early March and will be posted on Nonprofit Westchester’s website.

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  1. Westchester Community Foundation (WCF) was pleased to provide the $15,000 grant for this very meaningful and necessary economic impact study. As one of the charter members of Nonprofit Westchester, WCF thanks Joanna Straub, her staff and board, for the careful planning and meticulous detail that went into producing this study so far. We feel certain that the results, when available, will show the many ways that nonprofits add to Westchester’s quality of life.

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