Why Your Individual Donation Keeps Nonprofits Running

You’ve heard the old phrase countless times: “A little goes a long way.” That aphorism has never been truer than for nonprofits, who rely on personal donations to keep their organizations humming along.

Whether a nonprofit is $10 away from a financial goal or $1,000, each new donor has an impact all along the scale, from funding infrastructural needs and new programs within the organization to covering the cost of a single home-delivered meal.

The importance of individual charity donations

Although many believe that nonprofits are funded primarily by government grants, a 2019 article from The Balance Small Business states that “individuals are the largest source of charitable donations” for nonprofit charitable organizations.

According to a 2018 Giving USA report, 68 percent of charitable giving originated from individual donors throughout the year, an estimated $265 billion in total. That’s a lot of dollars that add up to giving back, and the sum total wouldn’t be possible without each individual donor’s contribution.

That momentum of giving has maintained a steady pace with younger generations. Generation Z, also nicknamed “Philanthroteens,” are the upcoming population of donors, and they’re on track to be the most socially conscious generation to date: A reported 32 percent of Gen Z donate their own money, and 26 percent of 16 to 19-year-olds volunteer on a regular basis.

These personal donations help keep the lights on in more ways than one. Public charities are required to receive at least one-third of their income from the public to qualify for tax exemption by the IRS, a status that can keep a nonprofit business financially afloat.

Filling needs not covered by funding sources

In the nonprofit sector, most grants come attached with a set of rules or guidelines that define specifically how money can be spent. As a result, most contracts typically cover little more than basic operations for specific programs — staffing, minimal supplies, and allowing less than 10 percent of the costs to keep the lights on.

While any contribution is a welcome necessity for a charitable organization raising funds, donations from individual donors are the lifeblood that keeps the hearts of nonprofits pumping.

Personal donations allow nonprofits the flexibility to help the community in ways that other funders — like governmental grants or public and private foundations — typically exclude.

Nonprofits are run as businesses, and unrestricted personal donations enable us to provide higher quality services and to sustain our work when other resources aren’t available. This unlimited giving permits nonprofit organizations to make financial decisions that support our infrastructure and programs, uninhibited by the rules and restrictions created by other organizations and institutions.

Where do your donations go?

Organizations like KC Shepherd’s Center that strive to meet the needs of our local communities work hard to adapt to the growing and changing needs of those they serve. These needs can be impacted by many factors: the weather, the time of year, legislation and health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to name a few.

In the past 18 months, we’ve seen a significant increase in the number of older adults that reach out for our services. The number of people served by our Meals on Wheels program has grown from 50 to 580 in the last year and a half, with more joining the program every single day.

Our staff has more than doubled in size as we build our capacity to support our Kansas City community. However, people aren’t the only thing needed to serve older adults through our programs. Office equipment such as computers is as vital as kitchen space and Meals on Wheels delivery vehicles. Every moving part of the organization costs money, which personal donations help to offset.

How can you help?

Generosity comes in many forms. Most websites for nonprofits have an online portal for donations, where you can set up recurring and regular contributions. You can find KC Shepherd Center’s options to help here.

We hope to reach at least 70 donors, giving monthly, in honor of our upcoming 70 Over 70 Awards Celebration in early November, an annual celebration that recognizes the community and leadership contributions of older adults. Click here if you’re interested in sponsorship opportunities for the 70 Over 70 event.

Other ways to support KC Shepherd’s Center:

Even the five dollars you spend on a morning cup of coffee can help someone in need. Donate today.

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