Welcome in—to our annual "Business and Nonprofits” issue, which features a collection of stories about several nonprofits and the important role they play in the North Bay. Like every community, the North Bay has an array of challenges that its civic, civilian and business leaders must tackle. But our profound ability to partner with nonprofit organizations and work together for the greater good of communities isn’t one of them. We are especially good at this! And I’d like to give a shout out to all the businesses that sponsored advertisements featuring local nonprofits to raise awareness of the important work they do. Thank you. Businesses and nonprofits working together is truly a winning partnership.
I once heard that on a per-capita basis, Sonoma County is among the most charitable places in the country. Would it surprise you to know that Napa and Marin counties are within that same realm?
Napa County has nearly 1,000 501c3 charities. These organizations held more than a $1 billion in assets in 2018, and received more than $800 million from the rich and not-so-rich of Napa County. These organizations distributed this to those in need in a variety of capacities, including health care, animal rescue, education, hunger, the arts and sciences, child development, veteran needs, housing issues, elder care and spiritual development.
Almost 5,000 charitable organizations exist in Sonoma County, holding nearly $8 billion in assets and distributing close to $2 billion in income to those very same sectors. In Marin County, nearly 4,000 charitable organizations brought in more than $4 billion in income from their citizens.
The TaxExemptWorld organization provides nationwide data on the millions of charities and nonprofits throughout our country, 501c3 organizations with total assets of more than $7 billion dollars. Nowhere else on the planet can you find such financial generosity. Valued at roughly 2.1 percent of our country’s entire gross domestic product, or GDP, Americans donated more than $400 billion 2017. To put this in perspective, that’s more money donated then the entire GDP of all but 40 of the world’s wealthiest countries. There’s always room for improvement, but don’t let people fool you into their own self-imposed guilt trip regarding our generosity as a nation. History has never recorded such generosity.
Of course, it’s not just money that we donate. It’s also human capital—time and effort. These are priceless donations and we feature the efforts of so many good people in this issue. After witnessing thousands of acres burned (and millions of acres plunged into darkness) during the Kinkade fire, volunteer fire departments, more commonly known as VFDs, made incalculable sacrifices to keep us safe. And you won’t see a better actualization of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), then at the Robert Ferguson Observatory. Thankfully, our firefighters protected this wooded outpost once again during these tragic fires. Educators from this Observatory, as well as from Piner High School’s SPARQ program, including Steve Smith, Kurt Kruger and others, nurtured the curiosity of so many drawn to the majesty of the stars and heavens. (I should know. My daughter, Lily, is one of them.)
Thanks to our writers for their in-depth coverage of these organizations, as well as for bringing to life the good works of Giant Steps Therapeutic Equestrian Center, and the Transcendence Theatre Company. And be sure to read what CEO Kim Mazzuca is doing in her spare time when she’s not working at 10,000 Degrees. Each of these nonprofits are wonderful examples of how our selfless giving actually enriches our communities and is also personally rewarding.
On a final note, 2020 marks a milestone for NorthBay biz magazine. We’ve been in the business of business for 45 years, serving as a local source for in-depth news, latest trends, hot topics and information in the business community. We’ll be celebrating this anniversary—and our readers—in the months ahead within the pages of this magazine.
In the meantime, your thoughts are always most welcome. Last month, they arrived in abundance in my inbox, regarding my point of view on Washington’s impeachment drama, and for that I’m so thankful. You can read a portion of them on page 8 in this issue; I’ll share more next month.
As always, you can reach me at Lawrence@NorthBaybiz.com.