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UF/IFAS Report Provides Beneficial Feedback From Nonprofits

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The state of Florida is one of the largest nonprofit sectors in the country with more than 62,000 nonprofit organizations. 

Of these 62,000 organizations, 3,807 of them call North Central Florida home, according to The Pulse of the Sector report. The Pulse of the Sector is a project, sponsored by UF/IFAS Extension and UF/IFAS Research, created to compile and analyze data on nonprofit organizations in North Central Florida.

In its most recent report, The Pulse of the Sector found that nonprofits in the area provide more than 34,000 people with jobs and contribute to more than $1.6 billion in wages to the regional economy.

“It demonstrates that nonprofit organizations are actually an economic asset to North Central Florida,” said Jennifer Jones, the principal investigator of the project and an assistant professor of nonprofit management and leadership in the Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences at the University of Florida.

The number of nonprofit organizations in the area has very little impact on the local tax base because employment numbers are very small compared to the number of agencies, Jones said.

According to the report, nonprofit organizations in North Central Florida attract more than $36 million in federal funding and $37 million from private foundation funding.

“That money is coming into the region because we have such a strong nonprofit sector,” Jones said.

Nonprofit organizations are beneficial to the local community in more ways than some would think.

One way is through tourism, said Christine Janks, member of The Alachua County Land Conservation Board and president and co-founder of Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation.

“People stay in the hotels, eat in the restaurants and shop in the stores.” said Janks, “So I think just our own facility creates a lot of economic benefits to Gainesville and Alachua County.”

Lawmakers, elected officials and funders can use the data from the reportto see where the nonprofit organizations are located and what type of activities the organizations are doing, Jones said.

According to the report, one of the largest subsectors of nonprofit organizations in Alachua County is human services. Alachua Habitat for Humanity is a local affiliate of the international nonprofit organization whose mission is to eliminate housing poverty and homelessness, according to its website.

The organization does this is by raising donations to buy materials and build homes, said Scott Winzeler, the executive director of Alachua Habitat for Humanity.

In the first quarter of the year, the organization had 404 volunteers in construction jobs and 75 volunteers in non-construction jobs.

“I think they fill a need that is not filled by other means,” Winzeler said. 

One of the smallest nonprofit subsectors in Alachua County, according to the UF/IFAS report, is environment and animals, but it is also one of the fastest growing, Janks said.

“I think it’s critical for people to see wildlife to appreciate the value that it is to our ecosystem and our earth,” Janks said. “If they don’t see wildlife up close, they don’t connect with it in the same way.”

The economic advantage these agencies bring to the area is also evident.

A lot of the money nonprofit organizations make is through program fees, charging people for services, and that money goes back into the local economy, Jones said.

The report can help determine where money is placed in order to help build healthy nonprofit sectors in the area based on need and values.

“It’s going to help us see where the gaps are,” Jones said. “And that’s something that can help all of us make better decisions in the future.”

A healthy nonprofit sector can contribute to the overall health of a community, according to Jones.

About Serena Hardware

Serena is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org

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