In countless communities, from coast to coast, border to border, and beyond, community-based nonprofits feed, heal, protect, shelter, educate, inspire, and nurture people of every age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status. They foster civic engagement and leadership, drive economic growth, and strengthen the fabric of the communities in which we live. I think we would all be hard-pressed to find someone who has not, at some point in their lives, benefited from a community nonprofit organization.
I am no exception. Growing up, I was a Boy Scout, participated in our church's youth sports program, volunteered at our local zoo, attended Japanese school, and joined a community band. At the time,
it was just about having fun and making friends, but
as I look back, each provided valuable learning and development opportunities that helped shape who I am today. More recently, as the primary family caregiver for my parents, I reached out to a local elderly care nonprofit service to talk to experts about how best to care for my parents, learn about available resources and services, and find out about different care options and providers. I am so thankful that they were there to help me navigate through the maze of things that I needed to know and do to ensure my parent's well-being and safety.
Community nonprofits work at the local level, are locally formed, locally staffed, and their actions are specific to the neighborhoods they operate in, but just because they are local does not mean they are focused on minor issues. They provide human, social, and education services that support the general welfare of local residents and citizens, address large scale issues including children and youth assistance, food security, health and wellness, homelessness, immigration, crime, and poverty, and provide voice to the collective local interests and needs that may not be heard in electoral or policy forums.
As important as these organizations are to each of us, our families, friends, neighbors, and the social fabric of our communities, we are acutely aware that many of these nonprofits are operating on a knife's edge. Heavily dependent on local charity and volunteers for their survival, local non-profits are increasingly under pressure as they struggle to financially survive while facing increasing needs of their citizenry, compounded by issues from the COVID-19 pandemic, less government funding, and the growing inequality of wealth that continues to, not surprisingly, unfold in the charitable giving sector with declines in small donors and increases in large donors. While benefiting larger, institutional non-profits, this has hurt smaller non-profits who depend on small donors and often lack the resources and networks to reach the relatively smaller pool of large donors.
It is with this mindset that Red String's Community-based Focus Program is based. We believe that charity should begin at home; that the best solutions for issues facing our communities are best solved locally; that community-based non-profits best understand the underlying causes of those issues; and that they are in the best position to help create and implement solutions that will best work within their communities.
(To be continued)