How Nonprofits And Commercial Groups Can Help The Economy
As the federal government seeks to capitalize on the recent growth experienced within the employment market, it has announced its latest proposal to help enable young and disadvantaged job seekers find work. The White House Summer Jobs Initiative, which unites public, private and voluntary sector parties in a drive to create new internships and youth employment opportunities, has already received commitment for nearly 180,000 paid and unpaid placements across the U.S. So, just how valuable is the concept of collaboration between nonprofit and for profit ventures, and could it hold the key towards reducing unemployment?

SEE: 5 Steps To Forming A Tax-Exempt Nonprofit Corporation

Recognizing the Financial Value of Those in the Voluntary Sector
The voluntary sector should not be underestimated in terms of its value to the U.S. economy, and as recently as 2010 the efforts of nonprofit ventures generated approximately $1,900 billion in revenue. What's more, it is likely to become even more generative as an increasing number of established brands develop their individual sense of social responsibility and enter into cause-marketing partnerships. With consumer awareness also rising, the collaboration between for-profit and nonprofit organizations creates a financially and socially generative union for all parties involved.

Even more significantly, nonprofit organizations are responsible for employing an estimated one in 10 U.S. citizens, and figures suggest that the voluntary sector has also been responsible for a faster rate of job creation than private organizations. This includes periods of recession, where nonprofits remain able to grow as they are not solely reliant on a single product or the vagaries of consumer spending habits. So, not only do non profit organizations generate huge sums of revenue for the economy, but they also provide employment opportunities throughout periods of fiscal hardship.

Nonprofits: Creating Employment Opportunities for Disadvantaged Individuals
Of course, there is also the issue of demographics to consider when it comes to addressing unemployment and the value of nonprofit ventures. For example, while the national unemployment rate was recorded at 8.5% in December, this statistic can differ when variable factors such as age, location and gender are applied, which makes it possible to discern which social groups and geographical areas are most vulnerable to the threat of economic stagnation. This practice reveals a link between high rates of poverty and unemployment, and nonprofits play a significant role in helping disadvantaged individuals get work.

States like Mississippi, which suffered from a poverty rate of 22.4% in the final quarter of 2011, also registered an unemployment rate of 10.5% for the same period. Both of these figures were well above the national average, and these figures help to reveal how failing industries and market sectors have directly affected specific regions and localities. As the White House Summer Jobs Initiative proves, the efforts of nonprofit ventures are crucial in both filling these gaps in employment and creating new opportunities for stricken communities. (To learn more about internships, check out Internships: Find The Best One For You.)

The Importance of Collaboration Between Brands and Nonprofits
Given the individual strengths of organizations within both the private and voluntary sectors, it stands to reason that any collaboration involving for- and nonprofit firms is likely to achieve considerable success in reducing unemployment. As the creation of 200,000 new private sector jobs helped the unemployment rate to continue its downward trend in December, and given that the voluntary sector has consistently grown steadily regardless of the economic circumstances that surround it, it would appear that this mutual prosperity has provided an increasingly fertile ground for growth and partnership.

As if to prove how valuable and effective these unions can be, the Create Jobs for USA campaign enjoyed instant success in gaining funds to both create and sustain jobs in troubled communities. Conceived by the community based nonprofit Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) and socially responsible brand Starbucks, it achieved more than $1 million in public donations within two weeks of its Nov. 1 launch. This fusion of a nonprofit's expertise in working within disadvantaged communities and a large brand's substantial market presence stands as something of a benchmark for others to aspire to, and remains a blueprint for how representatives from different sectors can work together to create social and economic change.

The Bottom Line
Nonprofits should not be underestimated, either in terms of the revenue that they generate or their ability to create employment opportunities in disadvantaged regions. When collaborating with socially responsible for-profit brands, the effects can be even more far reaching, and can help to improve the rates of employment across a wider range of social demographics and locations. As recent initiatives prove, this meeting of private and voluntary sectors is an increasingly influential factor in creating sustainable and nationwide economic growth. (For some related reading, check out Advance Your Career Off The Clock.)

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