Giving, volunteering important

Who doesn’t recognize this famous quote by Winston Churchill? As someone who was raised in the U.P. and fortunate enough to raise my own family here, I know firsthand that “giving” is part of the fabric of our region. How often do you hear about a good deed done, a successful fundraiser for a large organization or a single person in need, a volunteer making a difference or a check being provided to a worthy cause? I would venture to say daily. Much of this work is done through nonprofit organizations.

The nonprofit sector is defined as either a charitable nonprofit (tax deductible donations) or nonchartiable nonprofit with 28 different 501(c) tax codes. According to the IRS in 2011, Michigan had 48,642 registered nonprofit organizations, a 17.5 percent increase from 2001. Of those there are 2,163 nonprofits in the Upper Peninsula.

So why is this information important? The nonprofit sector provides a stability with employment, within the community and to the economy. With so many nonprofits in the state, over one in ten Michiganders work for a nonprofit. The sector actually continued to grow in terms of workforce during the economic hardships, an increase of 1.5 percent from 2006. The largest source of nonprofit employment is the healthcare industry accounting for over half of jobs in the sector. The third largest source is in education. Marquette County is fortunate to have many nonprofits, providing a good source of employment and services for the community.

Communities with nonprofits in the area tend to have better maintained critical infrastructure helping to improve Michigan’s economic recovery. People who are employed by nonprofits contribute directly to the local economy through their income and then indirectly when they make purchases in other sectors, helping to support those jobs.

What forms of nonprofits are there? Everything from service organizations, foundations, religious organizations, to arts and culture organizations, even economic development organizations!

Many people associate nonprofits with volunteering and giving, which is an essential component of successful nonprofits, enabling them to fulfill their missions. In Michigan Nonprofit Association’s 2011 survey, more than 90 percent of Michigan residents volunteered formally or informally for various nonprofits. Looking at giving, more than 89 percent of individuals donated to a charity, the highest rate in the past five years. Breaking the numbers down even further, the Upper Peninsula had a giving rate of 77 percent.

Not sure how to get involved? The Great Lakes Center for Youth Development, in collaboration with other entities across the Upper Peninsula, maintains the U.P. Volunteer Network (UPVN) which connects citizens with meaningful service opportunities that meet critical community needs. Check out their website,, for more information and volunteer opportunities. Additionally, The Mining Journal publishes various volunteer opportunities in the community section of every Sunday’s newspaper.

So, are you one of the 90 percent or 77 percent? Volunteering and giving is a rewarding feeling and a perfect way to give back to your community, helping to make it a better place.

Visit our website,, or give us a call at 906-226-6591 to learn more about the Lake Superior Community Partnership.

Editor’s note: Amy Clickner is CEO?of the Lake Superior Community Partnership. Her twice-monthly column will address topics of interest to the local business community.