Long ago, Rebecca Leaman asked me about nonprofits in small towns.
|Profit/nonprofit partnership is essential|
in most small towns.
“A lot of your thoughts on small-town and small-biz development seem to apply well to nonprofits, too – certainly to the grassroots groups that keep rural communities (I live in one) rolling. Your thoughts?”
At the time, I told her that small town business people are always volunteering in their local nonprofits. In fact, I’ve worked as a nonprofit staff member myself. Of course, we have a ton of things in common between small businesses and nonprofits. We’re all working on the same management, people, financial, and regulatory issues. We face the same problems of finding qualified people. and on and on. Another connection with nonprofits and small town businesses: our small communities need us both. We have to work together on the critical problems small towns face. We can’t solve our workforce shortages without cooperation of business, education, and government agencies. Our local economy won’t grow robustly by accident; we have to cooperate to make it happen.
When I ran across this discussion in my files, I thought it was worth bringing back. I posed a question in the newsletter, and long-time supporter Johnita Crawford answered:
I work with several community organizations and we all have the same problems, looking for money to support the things we want to do, and good volunteers to do it. I have some great people in our community that volunteer for so many things.
Our beautification committee runs under our city umbrella so for the project we’re doing now (raising $150,000 for street lights) we can offer tax deductions for charitable donations. We are working on fundraisers to raise some of the money and we are letting people buy poles and they get to put a brass plaque on it in memory of a family or loved one. We hope to raise at least half the money that way. We are also working with our local telephone company to give an inkind donation of the use of thier boring equipment which would save us lots of money on running the electric lines.An engineering company has donated a person to lay out the poles and things and did a scematic drawing so we can see what it will look like.
Getting help from professionals for free is one of the things we work on. This works in all kinds of situations.
We have a great Chamber of Commerce who puts on our Watermelon Festival every Labor Day weekend. This has been done every year for 111 years. It used to be a day activity and now it’s 3 days and people come from all over and lots of old hometown people come back to see friends and family. Our small town of 700 grows to 3000 to 4000 people. It’s a wonderful fundraiser for our chamber and gives them money for the whole year.
All the businesses in our community are basicly family owned and operated so we’re all small businesses. Everyone works together to get things done, and we all benefit from that work.
Hope this is some information you were looking for. Glad you ask if you want to know anything I haven’t added let me know.
How is your community partnering between profit and nonprofit groups? Anything others might learn from?
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.