Photo by Jim Massara
Miranda Austin of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits talks fundraising with Clayton County Chamber of Commerce members.
JONESBORO — First, let’s be clear: A nonprofit isn’t a business that can’t make money.
According to Miranda Austin of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits, they can be anything from the backbone of your favorite charity to your school’s PTA — and there are more than 39,000 of them in Georgia alone.
“If you look at us as a whole, we’re bigger than the real-estate industry,” Austin said Tuesday at the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce’s monthly networking luncheon, where she spoke to explain nonprofit fundraising.
According to the Georgia Center, the figures are huge. For example, the total value of expenditures of reporting Georgia nonprofits was $43.1 billion in 2009, almost 11 percent of Georgia’s gross state product.
Nonprofits are essentially organizations that use surplus funds to drive their purpose rather than handing them out as “profits” to investors. Such organizations — churches or charities, for example — can be deemed eligible under section 501(c) of Internal Revenue Service codes.
In Clayton County, there are 117 nonprofits, according to Georgia Center records. Top area nonprofits include Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity, Hearts to Nourish Hope and Harvesttime Higher Learning Academy.
Austin walked her audience through a nuts-and-bolts presentation on nonprofits, heavy on facts and figures. Then she divided them into groups to brainstorm topics such as what motivates a giver.
Participants suggested motives like tax purposes, national disasters and personal connections — and “because they want to go to heaven,” as one audience member put it.
Austin said that every motive could be rolled up into one: Givers want to make a difference.
“People want to be significant, and they want to make an impact,” she said.
After the talk, Austin plugged her organization’s Georgia Gives Day, slated for Dec. 6 and intended to drive donations to people’s favorite local nonprofits.
“Think of it as a flash mob of giving,” she said.
The Clayton County Chamber of Commerce holds monthly Business to Business luncheons at Higher Living Community Impact Center in Jonesboro, open to all.