In what would seem, at first glance, that a down economy would stifle the start of new nonprofit organizations that have to depend on the generosity of others for their success, is apparently not true, as this story from St. Louis notes.
“An executive and regular donor was planning a charity golf tournament. An active church had plans for a new project in north St. Louis.
“Both needed an official vehicle for their plans, an organization to carry the banner. But rather than look to existing groups, they all founded nonprofit organizations. And in taking matters into their own hands, they joined a gathering legion who have incorporated nonprofits to match their passions and ideas.
“In Missouri, the number of new nonprofit corporations founded annually has risen steadily this decade, from 1,233 in 2000 to 2,257 in 2007. In 2008, the number exploded to 3,082, almost a 37 percent increase in a single year. In all, the state has more than 52,400 registered nonprofits.
“In Illinois, nonprofit incorporations have increased almost every year since at least 1970, though they fell this year. There are almost 85,400 nonprofits in the state.
“They’re simply moral or social entrepreneurs that are concerned about the issues,” said Kirsten Grønbjerg, a professor at Indiana University and a chair at the Center on Philanthropy. “I get a request at least once a month from someone else who says, ‘I’m starting a new nonprofit. Tell me what to do.'”
“Nationally the trend looks much the same; for decades, entrepreneurs have taken their resolve to the not-for-profit sector each year in greater numbers.
“Experts can’t come up with any single reason why the nonprofit sector has grown like it has. But they all see one common thread: the almost mythic American, can-do spirit, as people with passions figure they can do it best themselves.
“That ‘Let’s take charge’ attitude leads them to start a nonprofit,” said Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of Guidestar, a national clearinghouse of nonprofit data that is itself an independent tax-exempt organization. “They’re saying, ‘I’m not going to wait for someone else to do it. I’m not going to wait for the government to do it. I’m going to do it myself.'”