Opinion: We can all support nonprofits

Giving Tuesday is designed to coordinate and concentrate support for nonprofit groups.

Though more evidence was hardly needed, this election season has reaffirmed that we are living through a very polarized time.

If I had to capture the past year in one word, it would be “versus.” Political views, economic strategy, public health measures, environmental policy – from issues monumental to minute, it seems like there is almost nothing that we can agree on. And it. Is. Exhausting. I don’t think I’m the only one who feels division is taking a toll on their relationships, community connections, and general outlook.

In times like these, it is important to look for the commonalities: the things, however tenuous, that we can actually agree on. I believe the best place to look is nonprofits.

One thing we all have in common is humanity, and with it our inclination to connect, care, and come together for one another – the very impulses put to work by nonprofits.

Credit: contributed

Credit: contributed

Nonprofits are an oasis where “versus” doesn’t exist. In countless disasters, nonprofits step up for people in need without considering political affiliation, religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other quality that might differentiate us. In an ever-more divided world, they serve as hubs of connectivity: opportunities to unite in love and service for our fellow Earth-dwellers, in a shared passion like the arts, in an effort to right injustice – wherever our hearts point us. In addition, nonprofits employ more than 277,000 Georgians and make up the state’s fifth-largest industry, contributing massively to Georgia’s economic health.

Of course, nonprofits need us too: Some 80 percent of all nonprofits operate on less than $500,000 annually, and largely in service of their immediate communities in neighborhoods and towns throughout Georgia. The lion’s share of their revenue comes in small gifts from everyday people.

Credit: GAGives

Credit: GAGives

And at this moment, nonprofits need us as much as they ever did.

Across the board, the COVID-19 pandemic has left organizations straining either to meet a sharp rise in demand or a steep decline in revenue. The Atlanta Community Food Bank, for instance, has been fielding a 300 percent increase in need. Meanwhile, every one of our arts organizations has seen a steady source of revenue – in-person visits and performances – dry up overnight.

If we want their critical work to continue – organizing drive-through food pantries and COVID testing, ensuring students have the laptops and PPE they need, caring for the sick and the homebound – and ensure a future in which our communities thrive, we must rally for nonprofits.

As the year-end giving season gets underway, you can champion the cause closest to your heart by talking to others about why it’s important, by volunteering your time and your talent, and by donating to an organization working where you live. Each year, GAgives on GivingTuesday – the state’s biggest day of giving – which provides opportunities to do all three things mentioned above. Head to GAgives.org, and you can discover and give to a nonprofit serving your cause, or set up your own fundraiser on behalf of a nonprofit; once you do, you’ll find easy-to-follow prompts for sharing the call to contribute with your online networks. (Don’t forget: Your example is powerful!)

Let’s get behind something we can all agree on – the work and worth of nonprofits – and, together, we can turn from an era of “versus” to a time of service.

Karen Beavor is CEO of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.