Thursday, August 9, 2012

Why Non-Profits are profitable for Oakland

By Jerry Metzker
Co-chair of Non-Profit Roundtable and
Development & Marketing Manager of Biotech Partners

The word “charity” is often a misnomer, and yet that is the word that pops into most people’s heads when we think of “non-profits.” In addition, “non-profit” often carries with it the common and diminishing belief of sameness. Frequently, non-profit companies and organizations are listed together, as if their primary business was, in fact, being “non-profit.”

A review of the non-profit organizations that are members of the Oakland Chamber of Commerce, however, reveals a breadth and depth in focus, service and business. First, approximately 15% of all Oakland Chamber of Commerce members fall under the IRS status of “non-profit.” These roughly 200 businesses run in size from employing a handful of employees focused on a specific service or activity to the largest private sector employer in Oakland. While many are specifically local, others are regional, national or even international.

Non-profits are service organizations for children and youth, seniors, people with disabilities or illnesses, the unemployed, homeless and disadvantaged; they are arts organizations and museums; social and civic clubs and associations; schools (from pre-school programs through universities), churches, synagogues, mosques and religious communities; cultural organizations; zoos and science centers; health care providers (including Kaiser and Children’s Hospital); credit unions; City CarShare, AAA and even the Oakland Chamber of Commerce.

A person wouldn’t classify a restaurant, farm, trucking company and supermarket as the same type of business, because they merchandise in food. Yet that same person would lump a school, health organization and orchestra under the giant umbrella of “non-profit.” Simply, to be a non-profit is to be a legal corporation with a specific IRS tax status.

Not only do non-profits provide valuable and necessary services to our communities, but they also provide thousands of jobs and pour millions of dollars into local economies. Non-profit companies also make our communities better places to live and prosper. Imagine Oakland without its world-class zoo, the Paramount, Chabot Space & Science Center, Children’sHospital, the Oakland Museum or the Chamber of Commerce.

Non-profit companies and organizations are integral to the positive fabric of our community, and the Oakland Chamber’s Non-profit Roundtable invites all those that are interested in interfacing and networking with this valuable collection of local businesses on the third Thursday of each month, from 2:30-4:30 p.m. in the Oakland Chamber boardroom.

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