In the Pacific Northwest, we’re feverish about everything local. We buy food grown close to home, clothes by local designers, and furniture crafted by NW artisans. We diligently support our local businesses because we know that everyone benefits from investing in our own economy.
You might be surprised to learn that same return on investment applies to our local nonprofit organizations as well. While many people tend to think of nonprofits as operating in a single-issue vacuum—literacy programs are about getting books into the hands of children, art museums are about inspiring people, and foster programs are about putting needy kids in homes ASAP—nonprofits are actually a powerful part of our economic engine.
“Communities are an ecosystem in which all the different players feed and support each other,” says Steve Moore, Executive Director of the Pacific Northwest’s M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust. “When we’re all contributing and working together, the entire community thrives.”
Think about it. A show at Keller Auditorium or any of Portland’5 Centers for the Arts can be inspiring, life-changing even, but that’s only the beginning. Ticket holders are likely eating at local restaurants, staying at hotels, and paying for parking garages. Likewise, Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia, Washington is more than just a fun place for kids. It’s engaging youth from all communities and inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers. And Every Child Oregon connects volunteers with the foster-care system and helps give vulnerable kids role models so that they’re more likely to contribute positively to the community in the future.
This is what sowing the seeds of a healthy economy looks like. And, according to Moore, the long-term investment is worth it.
“You’re not necessarily going to see your contribution pay off tomorrow or even next week, but if you’re a business owner, you need to be thinking about your long-term customers and talent pipeline,” he says. “The way you build that is by making investments locally today.”
If your business isn’t able to make a financial investment, there are other ways you can contribute. Think about giving your staff a paid number of volunteer hours every year and encouraging them to join local nonprofit boards. You can also partner your business with local foundations and spread the word about your favorite organizations through event sponsorships.
When it comes to nourishing a sustainable ecosystem, every contribution helps uplift and support the entire community. Now that’s thinking like a local. And it’s good business.
The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust works to serve individuals, families, and communities across the Pacific Northwest through grant-making and enrichment programs and has invested more than $1 billion in the region since 1975. To learn more about the thousands of nonprofits we serve and to access free resources on nonprofit and leadership development, board service and planned giving, visit murdocktrust.org.