Local nonprofit leaders tout economic benefits of charitable organizations

Local nonprofit leaders tout economic benefits of charitable organizations
(Courtesy Photo)

By Derrick Perkins (File Photo)

Nonprofit organizations are quietly fueling the Port City’s economy, according to a recently released study commissioned by the Alexandria Council of Human Service Organizations.

The council’s member groups raise an estimated $206 million in revenue each year, spending about $182 million in the same period while supporting 2,057 full and part time employees. Citywide, nonprofits rake in about $3.3 billion annually, the study concluded.

Leaders in the philanthropy community revealed the findings during a press conference at the Alexandria Seaport Foundation on Monday, touting the results as evidence of the vital economic importance of the Port City’s nonprofits.

Most people know about the good these organizations do, said John Porter, executive director of ACT for Alexandria, which runs the council in conjunction with City Hall. But the economic benefits often go unrecognized, he said.

“The negative, at times, is that what you hear about nonprofits is, ‘Gee, they’re nonprofits — they don’t pay taxes. … Nonprofits, they’re not contributing other than helping. They’re not contributing to the economy,’” Porter said.

The study, conducted by Peoples Consulting, was released as local nonprofits prepare to oppose expected cuts to government grants for charitable organizations. This information will help nonprofit leaders better inform policymakers and the public, said J. Glenn Hopkins, president and CEO of Hopkins House.

“We consume city money, but we also contribute to city funds,” he said. “It’s not just a grant, a grant for nonprofits for doing good work. … From our perspective, it’s an investment.”

Porter, Hopkins and others plan to shop the study’s findings, partially based on a 2012 report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies on Virginia’s nonprofit sector, around to business and government leaders.

“Our hope is that those who make decisions about the nonprofit community … will better understand that it’s not just them giving to charity,” Porter said. “There is a major impact on the community.”