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In praise of nonprofits, today and every day

In Minnesota close to 400,000 nonprofit employees make up over 13% of our state’s workforce. The bill in Congress would provide a seat at the table for nonprofits just as small businesses (rightly) have access to.

The work and impact of nonprofit organizations enrich our individual lives and our communities. Some 20 million people across the country serve on a board for nonprofits. I am honored and enriched to be one of them.

Two pieces of legislation, one at the federal level and one at the state level, have been introduced recently to recognize and support the work of nonprofits.

The Nonprofit Sector Strength and Partnership Act of 2022, introduced by U.S. Reps. Betty McCollum, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, is landmark legislation to strengthen the relationship between the federal government and nonprofits.

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The MAVA (Minnesota Alliance for Volunteer Management) bill provides funding for grants targeting under-resourced nonprofits to address disparities in access to human services through increased volunteerism. The bill is awaiting final passage.

Jim Scheibel
Jim Scheibel
My community and nation is better because of the work of nonprofit organizations, and my life is enriched. Some of my favorite nonprofits making an impact in my community:

My city is more vibrant because of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival, the world’s best jazz at Mears Park; food security is addressed, and change is made by the fellows of the Congressional Hunger Center, fighting hunger by developing leaders; increased civic engagement through the work of Minnesota Voice, organizing disenfranchised people to be fully engaged in electoral process; and the lives of aging adults are better because of Episcopal Homes of Minnesota, providing quality housing to seniors.

Take time to reflect about the nonprofits that have made a difference in your life and community.

The Twin Cities is No. 1 among metropolitan areas and Minnesota is No. 2 among states in volunteerism. The investment in state dollars will have a big return by the impact volunteers will make. Advocates for volunteerism thank state Sen. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka, and state Rep. Jen Schultz, D-Duluth, for their leadership working across the aisle to increase volunteerism.

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The bill in Congress is a major step in supporting nonprofits. Just as small businesses are a critical piece of the economy, so too are nonprofits. In Minnesota close to 400,000 nonprofit employees make up over 13% of our state’s workforce.

The bill would provide a seat at the table for nonprofits just as small businesses (rightly) have access to. It would create an office in the White House, similar to how the Small Business Administration has a formal voice within the federal government. The legislation would also create an interagency council and a federal advisory board, among other important steps to bolster the nonprofit sector.

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits has been a leading voice in working to achieve a formal federal partnership. More than 500 organizations in all 50 states have signed on supporting the bill! You and your organization can learn about this legislation by visiting the Independent Sector website: independentsector.org/seat4nonprofits.

Thank you to the nonprofits in Minnesota and across the nation creating change in our communities. Your work has never been more important.

Jim Scheibel is professor of practice at Hamline University. He is the former mayor of St. Paul. During his spring sabbatical he served as senior policy fellow for Congresswoman McCollum.