Monday, March 10, 2014

NonProfits Are a Force

At its February meeting, the Oakland Chamber NonProfit Roundtable welcomed the Chamber’s Interim President Dan Quigley for a rich discussion about the aspirations and goals of the nonprofit sector in both the Chamber and the community. As the Chamber goes through its transition from longtime President Joseph Haraburda (who recently retired after many years of incredible service to Oakland) to its new president Barbara Leslie (see February 27, 2014 Chamber blog for more information), part of the process includes checking in with members. And the nonprofit community comprises over 10% of Chamber membership.

The meeting started with a quick overview of the nonprofit sector as a collection of businesses, featuring several statistics from the National Center for Charitable Statistics (

·         There are 1,409,430 tax-exempt organizations in the USA, including: 948,769 public charities, 96,655 private foundations and 364,006 other types of nonprofit organizations, including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues.

·         In 2010, nonprofits accounted for 9.2% of all wages and salaries paid in the United States.
Nonprofit Share of GDP was 5.5% in 2012.

·         In 2011, public charities reported over $1.59 trillion in total revenues and $1.49 trillion in total expenses.  Of the revenue: 22% came from contributions, gifts and government grants; 72% came from program service revenues, which include government fees and contracts; and 6% came from "other" sources including dues, rental income, special event income, and gains or losses from goods sold.

·         Public charities reported $2.87 trillion in total assets in 2011.

·         Between 2001 and 2011, the number of nonprofits has increased 25 percent; from 1,259,764 to 1,574,674 million today. The growth rate of the nonprofit sector has surpassed the rate of both the business and government sectors.

·         In 2010, nonprofits contributed products and services that added $779 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product; 5.4 percent of GDP. Nonprofits are also a major employer, accounting for 9 percent of the economy’s wages, and over 10 percent of jobs in 2009.

·         In Alameda County, there are 7512 registered nonprofit organizations (public charities, private foundations & others).

With this information increasing the energy of the participants, Chamber president Dan Quigley led a discussion of three different subjects. The first was in response to the simple question: “What is the Oakland Chamber doing well?” The answers:

The NonProfit Roundtable is a great opportunity to connect and learn.

Website directory and calendar are easy to use and informational.

Nikki Mendez (Membership Director) is a powerful, passionate advocate.

The specialty groups like the Young Professionals and Women in Business Roundtable are terrific.

There are a great number of events and different types of events that give members a lot of choice and many ways to participate.

Recognizing nonprofit companies as businesses is outstanding.

The second question was “What can the Oakland Chamber do to make your membership more meaningful?” Quigley even asked attendees to fill in the blank, no matter how outlandish: “Wouldn’t it be great if the Oakland Chamber of Commerce _______________________________?” Suggestions included:

Work on more ways to connect nonprofits with private businesses.

Provide targeted training or invite the Foundation Center to lead a training activity.

Create a way to share event management resources and materials.

Host intimate networking events.

Hold “Come meet our nonprofits” event.

Develop ways to connect private business with nonprofits.

Connect nonprofits more with mid-size businesses—i.e. those who don’t have philanthropic strategists on staff.

At the Annual Meeting, present an award to a corporation that does something innovative to benefit the community; or award a non-profit for its service or innovation.

Host a nonprofit fair.

Add “What are you community partnering interests?” question to membership application.

Hold one breakfast/business fair every year.

Connect nonprofits to corporate Board members.

The third question Quigley posed was “What can the Chamber do to enhance the quality of life in Oakland?” The answers included:

Survey all members to find an all Chamber event.

Lead a community-wide safety project.

Brand private and nonprofits together.

Support and fund the formation of a professional Oakland theater space/company.

Lead an Oakland school partnership with companies to strengthen schools (What can happen after the Superintendent’s breakfast?).

As a solid collection of local employers, many small businesses, including nonprofits have particular interest in the several proposals at the federal, state and city level for raising the minimum wage. While the Chamber has not taken an official position as of yet, Quigley is collecting opinions and reactions to the various suggestions being discussed. Comments shared include:

Should there be a difference between an adult minimum wage (which may be needed to support family) and a teenager minimum (money to save and use for discretionary income)?

There are social and emotional benefits of higher wages.

As wages go up, will there be more demand on workers?

The Chamber encourages all of its members to continue the minimum wage conversation. To share your perspective, email Dan Quigley at As the Chamber continues under new leadership, we anticipate many more such conversations to meet members’ needs, strengthen the business climate in Oakland and continue to improve the overall quality of life of our community.


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At March 11, 2014 at 10:27 AM , Anonymous Dale Marie Golden said...

It was a great meeting and I am thrilled that the Chamber recognizes the importance of the non-profit sector in Oakland. Kudos to Jerry Metzker, Ana-Maria Jones, Nikki Mendez and Dan Quigley for all the work and championship they do for the Non Profits of Oakland! Warmly, Dale Marie Golden, Head of NonProfit Banking, Torrey Pines Bank

At March 12, 2014 at 9:54 AM , Anonymous Kris Viers, Cerebral Palsy Center for the Bay Area said...

Thank you for capturing this wonderful meeting so well in your blog article, Jerry. I always enjoy the Nonprofit Roundtable meetings, but this was especially good with a room filled with people engaged in meaningful dialogue. Dan Quigley was excellent in sharing his message and involving everyone in the discussion.


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