Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NONPROFITS; Quiet Behemoth

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NONPROFITS; Quiet Behemoth

Article excerpt

One of the largest employment sectors in Florida is an unseen powerhouse.

It provides music to lift your spirits, care to improve your health, education to improve your prospects, religion to save your soul and support when you need help.

It's the fourth-largest industry in the state, if the nonprofit hospital sector is included.

It provides 21 times more workers than the state's utilities industry, six times more workers than agriculture and more workers than the entire state construction industry.

It's the nonprofit sector, a combination of many agencies all around us, many of them hiding in plain sight. Tax law provides almost 30 different sections for claiming nonprofit status.

But in Jacksonville, even more than the state as a whole, the nonprofit sector receives less support than it deserves.

Those are some of the key lessons gleaned from a major report from the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies and the Florida Philanthropic Network.

Lester Salamon, director of the center, gave a presentation recently to Jacksonville nonprofits at the Times-Union's newspaper auditorium.

NEED IS GREAT

-- Median wages in Florida are below the national average.

-- More Floridians go without health care, 21 percent, while the national average is 16 percent.

-- Only 40 percent of state workers are covered by an employee-sponsored retirement program, compared to the national average of 50 percent.

Nonprofits are trying to get the word out that they not only provide important resources to the state, but do so efficiently.

In many cases, the government can outsource jobs to nonprofit agencies more economically than it can provide those services itself. And if a nonprofit is not performing, changes can be made more quickly than dealing with the government's own bureaucracies and unions.

Previous studies have shown that, while Jacksonville has some generous individuals and companies, the giving rate here is lower than comparable communities. …

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