Knowledge Center

Banking on KC – Luann Feehan of Nonprofit Connect

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Kelly Scanlon:

Welcome to Banking on KC. I'm your host Kelly Scanlon. Thank you for joining us. On this episode, we welcome Luann Feehan, the president and CEO of Nonprofit Connect, to talk about the state of giving in Kansas City and the impact of nonprofits, not just in fulfilling their individual missions, but on the economy and workforce of Kansas City. Welcome Luanne, We're glad you could be here.

Luann Feehan:

Hey, thank you, Kelly.

Kelly Scanlon:

What is Nonprofit Connect and what's its mission? You're a nonprofit yourself, but how is it that you work with other nonprofits?

Luann Feehan:

Oh, good question. So Nonprofit Connect, has been around for a little over 40 years and we started out as a council on philanthropy. Many of us may know us for our job board or job link. It is one of the original branding strengths of our organization, but throughout the years, we continue to build more on our platform. And Kelly, I like to think of us as a chamber of commerce for nonprofit businesses. So we are essentially a regional association that is serving organizations and individuals involved in leading and running nonprofit organizations. We have a little over 800 members throughout the metropolitan area and in the region and we really like helping other organizations achieve their missions and improve their efficiencies through the programs and products and services that we offer our nonprofit organizations.

Kelly Scanlon:

Couple of months ago, you released an impact report, the Kansas City nonprofit impact report. And in terms of jobs, in terms of money that funnels back into the economy of Kansas City, because of nonprofits, there's such a great economic impact that this report reveals. So tell us about some of the highlights of that report.

Luann Feehan:

Oh, I love this topic and I think what gets overlooked is just how much our sector, the nonprofit sector, brings to our community. And first of all, I always like to start off by saying, I get a little annoyed by using the word nonprofit. I'm not sure whose idea that was many moons ago to call us nonprofits, when the work that we do is not about the non and it's not about the profit. The work that we do is about giving back to the community and doing it in such a giving spirit. So this research has-

Kelly Scanlon:

Very well said.

Luann Feehan:

Thank you. This research has really shared a lot of information and part of it, I get excited because we often get a lot of calls and requests about what is happening in this area. And we've just really been struggling to get a concise number. So let me just run through that a little bit and also do a comparison of how we fit into the national scope too. So for instance, in the metropolitan area, and we consider that to be 14 counties based on the Bureau of statistics, we followed their current standing on that. And right now in Metro Kansas City, there are over 12,500 organizations. And so many organizations of course are charitable, which are C3s, so the C3s specifically, the charitable organizations in Kansas City equate to 9,322, which is about 74% of the consolidation of organizations that we have. Now, the other staggering part of this is that we're made up of a lot of small organizations. And I think it's really important to know because in the business community, we know how important small business is to our community and to our economy and how they work in tandem with the corporations.

Luann Feehan:

It makes a really strong ecosystem, it is the exact same thing in the nonprofit sector, or as I like to often say the nonprofit businesses. In Kansas City, we have 2,814 organizations that have a budget over $50,000. So what this means, as I mentioned, we have 12,500 organizations in the city and only 2,800 of them have a budget over 50,000. But those are an awful lot of small organizations in our community that are coming together to try to help individuals make our economy stronger here in Kansas City.

Kelly Scanlon:

Those are some staggering numbers. I think the one that I saw on there that just blew me away was that the revenue that's generated annually by nonprofits. You want to talk about that for a minute?

Luann Feehan:

Absolutely. And I also will reference that this information is on our website, npconnect.org, under our resources we have our nonprofit impact resource information there that we would love for you to check out. So with that, we do bring in a lot in terms of workforce and in terms of economy. So let me just, if I can a moment talk about the economy itself. Nationally, the nonprofit sector represents 5.5% of the national GDP and economists tell us that anything over 5% is really creating a big impact. Here in Kansas City, our economic impact of just the nonprofit sector is over 14%.

Kelly Scanlon:

Incredible, nearly triple.

Luann Feehan:

Yes. Now, here's the other thing that's interesting, and how this stacks up. Here in Kansas City that is greater than construction, manufacturing, finance, and hospitality. What I would like to see more of is consideration for the good work that's happening in the for purpose organizations, for the social good of our community, which is representing 14% bringing in $18.5 billion in revenue, Kelly, 18.5. That's a lot,

Kelly Scanlon:

It's an incredible number. And when you also look at the economic impact in terms of the compensation that is paid to workers in this sector, and then they end up going out and spending the money in the economy, that's a pretty staggering number as well. I think that's around, close to $5 billion. If I remember what I saw correctly.

Luann Feehan:

Yes. And it is a big impact. And it's interesting, our workforce is about the same number, it's 117,196 nonprofit employees in Kansas City. And I did a little research on this out of curiosity, and that is actually about the same size of the full City of Independence or close to the same size as Topeka. So when you take a look at, if we were to put all of our nonprofit workers into one community, that's the volume that it would take up.

Kelly Scanlon:

Is there a particular concentration, is there a particular area in which they work or focus?

Luann Feehan:

Yeah. It's really, and this gets a little hard to define to some degree, it's really about the public and societal benefit, right? And so those includes the community improvement, like veteran support and neighborhood associations and foundations. And then it also rolls right into human services, which are tackling some of the region's most pressing issues, including child welfare, shelters, food, nutrition, and public safety. Those two categories are certainly taking up the majority of the work that happens within the sector. But no doubt about it. I mean, there's great impact that happens through faith based and arts also.

Kelly Scanlon:

Right now, that whole public safety, we're seeing a lot of our frontline workers during this COVID pandemic, they are the nonprofit worker.

Luann Feehan:

Absolutely right. And I appreciate you mentioning that because I don't think it gets recognized that most hospitals are nonprofits and of course healthcare is so vitally important. And then the research that is happening, is happening through colleges and universities and institutes like that, which all are, I should say, maybe most are nonprofit organizations. And there we're also talking about food insecurity and what the shelters mean and for the homeless. I mean, there was so much going on with the virus and it's the nonprofit sector and the great work that those organizations are doing that are really tackling it every single day, doing it with the highest volume that they've ever experienced and with limited resources.

Kelly Scanlon:

Well, I'm really glad that you brought up that report and that you'd said that it's on the website at npconnect.org, because there's so many other numbers. We don't want to go into all of those here today, but it's just an amazing eyeopening report about the economic impact that nonprofits have in Kansas City. Talk to us a little bit about the ways that people can donate and the other ways of donating that aren't monetary. Can you run us through those?

Luann Feehan:

Absolutely. I appreciate you mentioning that the need for our organizations for revenue is constant and it's continual, and we get our funding in a variety of ways. Well, some of which is through grants that are provided either through the government or through family or corporate foundations. And those are really important to help an organization have some sustainability in how it maneuvers through its regular routine, right? So that's really important, but it's the individual donors that most organizations' need and stats show that 70% of the revenue that comes into an organization is done through individual donors. One at a time, as people are making a donation, whether it's online, on their phone, or however they're doing it, maybe I think a lot is happening through schools. I know with my kid, it seems like there are routine regular opportunities to give to an organization through our school system as well.

Luann Feehan:

Those funds are so key to making sure that we are helping the people or the pets achieve their goals of which they're after. And we are very generous here in Kansas City, not only in the giving of funds, but also in time. So as you mentioned, volunteering is so key and so important, especially to the smaller organizations, because it's harder for them to get the revenue streams in. And so they depend on their volunteers to really help administer a lot of the work and they're doing that of course, all year round. And right now we're all struggling to really keep the pace with the revenues that are coming in and also ensuring that our volunteers are taken care of. Now, when you talk about, there's other ways of giving, so we know that there's money, and then we know that there's time. I think there are other ways to consider that and it's as simple as public awareness.

Luann Feehan:

When we talked to our execs about one of the biggest challenges that they have, it's really about how do they get recognized in the community for the work that they're doing? So if you have a passion to an organization and you are a volunteer or you see some really good things happening, I would encourage you to spread that love out on social media. Whether it's your Facebook or Twitter, or just give a positive shout out to the work and the contributions that they're doing, that awareness that gets spread out through our community and beyond, is really powerful and needed. And it just takes a little bit of time in order to do so. And then the last thing that I'll add to that are just simple resources. So we know with brands like Harvesters, of course, they're looking for food that they can fill their warehouse with an order to give out to people. And we also know that there's organizations like Goodwill that are looking for you to deliver clothing and leftover items that you might want to have reused. And those are really great.

Luann Feehan:

So sharing of your resources that you have in your home or in your family and get them back into the community so they can help others in need, is really great. And then I'll add to that, that if you're in a company or a corporation and you want to contribute, another great way to do it is just the supplies that we need, right? So we all use probably more paper than we should, but I oftentimes think that if people would just think about supplying the day to day stuff like light bulbs and paper and different things that are in high demand, that there are ways to share those resources with organizations too. And also then the pro bono work. If you're really good at, let's say social media, to share some of that talent and spread that expertise for the good of the organization.

Kelly Scanlon:

That's a very nice picture that you painted for us about how you can volunteer with various not-for-profits the opportunities that are available there. Because people have different amounts of time, they have different amounts of different kinds of skills that they can contribute as well. One other area that some people might not think about is board service. Most nonprofits have boards. So talk to us about that type of opportunity as well. What boards do for nonprofits and the types of people that nonprofits are looking for to serve on those boards?

Luann Feehan:

It's such an important question because board service is at the core of an organizations' success and it's all volunteer run. So this is one of the differences between nonprofits and corporations and businesses, is that our boards cannot be paid for their service. That it is totally complimentary, that it's totally volunteer. And with that, it's key to the organization because they're the governing body. They're the collective group that is making the decisions on how the organization moves forward. So many times as board of directors get invited to serve and it feels good, right? I mean, somebody wants them to be on their board and that seems so uncomplimentary to being needed I guess. The problem is that so very few board of directors are trained or really know what their roles and responsibilities are for the service that they're providing. And oftentimes we see board of directors they're on there because they are passionate of course about the organization, but they love the comradery. And they love getting to know other people around the board and learning more about the inner workings of an organization.

Luann Feehan:

Where the reality of it is, as an executive myself, our boards run our organizations. And when we come together, we really need our board to engage on the operations and what's taking place and helping us make those really big heady decisions on how the organization moves forward. Whether it's how to build resources, or how to limit expenses, or how to build capacity, or finding employees, and making sure that volunteers are handled appropriately too. So there's a lot in the roles and responsibilities of a board. And that's one of the things that we really enjoy doing in Nonprofit Connect is, speaking with boards at their meetings and talk about what some of the challenges that they may have, but more importantly, getting them all on the same bus about what their responsibilities are and how they compliment the work that's being done by the staff.

Kelly Scanlon:

So for someone who's listening right now, and they have not served on a nonprofit board, are there ways to present yourself to various boards where you might have interest in their mission, or is it something that boards prefer to go out and make the individual asks? How does that work?

Luann Feehan:

Fantastic question Kelly, because it works both ways. Oftentimes there's an individual that wants to serve on a board and doesn't know how to do it. And I always say volunteer because that's how you really get the first entree to the inner workings of an organization. And the statistics show that people have an affinity toward a mission. So let's just say for animal welfare, that people really like being around pets and animals. So you'll likely want to volunteer for an animal shelter. What we find is, it's that passion of wanting to help animals or pets that is an overarching need. Now it's up to the individual to decide which organization they really want to spend their time with. And is it somebody or an organization may be close in proximity to where they live or to they work, or do they really like the whole scope of what the organization has to offer? So we always say volunteer first so that you can get an understanding of what really does happen at that organization.

Luann Feehan:

And then there are tools like on our website, we have a board link, it works like a job board, except for it's for organizations that are seeking or have available seats on their board and they're looking for people to serve. So I always love people to take a look at that, to see if there might be a match to be made. Oftentimes board of directors are filled with individuals that have the right affinity toward the organization, but also serve a skillset that is needed to help that board be holistic. So think about a work environment, you need to have somebody that does marketing, you need to have somebody that is accounting, you need to have somebody that does programming, and you have all the different roles within your own work environment. The board table should be aligned with those same skill sets. So as we're running our operations and moving forward with governance, that there is a voice that represents that line of thinking throughout.

Kelly Scanlon:

Let's talk about sustainability for just a minute. We've talked about the financial side, how do you keep next generations involved and the mission fresh? As each new generation comes into play, into the workforce, are of age, to be making an impact with nonprofits. How do you keep them aligned with the missions of the different organizations?

Luann Feehan:

I don't want to oversimplify it, but it's so easy. And I love our emerging generation because they are connected to doing social good, like no other generations prior to them. And they are already ingrained on creating an impact in our community and creating social good, that they are highly more active than other generations. For example, there was a stat that I saw a few months ago that for Kansas City, our millennials are rated fifth in the nation for activity. So they are out-

Kelly Scanlon:

Really? That's incredible.

Luann Feehan:

Yes, it is, we have a fantastic connection. And we also know that the next generation is making their decisions on where they work. Either because they want to give back to the community and they know that the best place to do that is to work for a nonprofit, or if they're working for a company, they ensure that the organization is doing some social good and offering volunteer time and or money back into the associations or organizations that they treasure. So there is a fantastic movement happening with emerging generations and their affinity to the nonprofit sector. And as a result of that, our sector is growing at a very fast rate, not only because of the need in our community, but because of the attention that we're getting. And it's because of this great generation coming on.

Kelly Scanlon:

It's incredible, the impact of the nonprofit sector on the Kansas City community, a lot of eye opening information about the nonprofit sector. So thank you for sharing that. Keep up the great work that you're doing in the community. We're really happy that you could take this time to join us on this episode of Banking on KC.

Luann Feehan:

Kelly, thank you so much. It's always a joy to chat with you and so grateful for the contributions and the philanthropy that Country Club Bank provides our community. So appreciate this time and wish you all well. We are better together.

Joe Close:

This is Joe Close, president of Country Club Bank. Thank you to Luanne Feehan, for being our guest on this episode of Banking on KC. Luann, you're right. We are better together. We applaud you and the more than 12,500 nonprofits for the work you do serving the people of Kansas City and lifting up the area's economy. Country Club Bank believes that philanthropic involvement is essential to a thriving community. That's why the bank and our associates support more than 250 nonprofits through financial giving, volunteering, board service, and the use of our buildings and facilities. We are humbled to be able to work with so many nonprofits and proud of our associates for the work they do throughout the community. Thanks for tuning in this week. We're banking on you, Kansas City. Country Club Bank, member FDIC.