What Would Happen if There Were No Nonprofits in Missouri or Kansas?

A group of more than 20 nonprofit professionals convened by Nonprofit Missouri recently met in Columbia, Missouri. The group shared ways to raise their collective voices, and landed on one question as a way to help demonstrate their impact – “What if the nonprofit sector did not exist?” What services would not be available? What would not happen in education and youth development? What art would not be supported? What health and human services would not have been delivered? What social benefits would have been lost and how would our world be different? It would be a staggering list of losses in our communities that would convince the biggest skeptics that no one would want a world without the valuable work of nonprofits.

If all the nonprofits in Missouri and Kansas would tally the collective actions undertaken by their agencies in just one day by tracking staff and volunteer activities, the evidence of their work during this “virtual we don’t exist day,” would be startling. If you were to combine this data with the unmet demand for services that nonprofit leaders report they cannot provide because of lack of resources, the numbers would be even more startling. According to the Nonprofit Times (December, 2016), one-third of nonprofit leaders reported they were unable to meet the demands for services and over half anticipate they won’t be able to meet demands in the future.

The *chart below, created by the Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, demonstrates areas of impact by organizational type Kansas City nonprofits provide locally:

In addition to the services nonprofits provide, our sector contributes to a vibrant community through our economic impact. Below are the economic statistics from the Independent Sector for Missouri and Kansas.

**Missouri Economic Impact:
• Employs 230,900 (10.8% of the state’s workforce)
• Generates $46.3 billion in annual revenues
• Holds assets of $86.5 billion
• Missourians give $2.8 billion to charity each year, representing 4.4 percent of household income

**Kansas Economic Impact:
• Employs 159,800 (almost 9% of the state’s workforce)
• Generates over $14 billion in annual revenues
• Holds assets of $33.3 billion
• Kansans give over $1.8 billion to charity each year, representing 3.57 percent of household income

Nonprofits continue to be tasked with reporting our impact in the community, which is as it should be. Deep dive thinking about our work and how we measure impact is important and critical to measuring success and inspiring program and process changes. Maybe a simple supposition and discussion about “what if we weren’t here” would spark a different type of conversation.

“You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result.” Mahatma Ghandi

*Source: Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership
**Source: Missouri Independent Sector
**Source: Kansas Independent Sector
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