All About the Dollars and Sense
Hey, everyone. I'm Sarah Lange, and I'm here to spark the philanthropy revolution. The word philanthropy means love of mankind. My show is all about the ways we can open our doors and hearts so we can do more good.
Hey, everybody. Thanks for joining me back with another episode, episode five of the philanthropy revolution, and really appreciate you jumping on with me today. For those of you who haven't met yet, I'm Sarah Lange. I live in Massachusetts, but I work with fundraising clients all over the United States to raise more money so they can do more good. I've raised $90 million so far. I'm a little bit of a unicorn because there's not a lot of people who have reached this level doing what I do. So I love what I do. I'm very passionate about the sector, which is why I started this live stream show.
So I'll tell you another reason I started this live stream show. So my business mentor, Loke Adhapari, interviewed me last week, and we were talking about why I do what I do. And part of it is because I think I just came out of the womb this way. I've always been a social justice warrior from the time I was four on. But the other big, big, big piece of why I do what I do is because my mother was an active alcoholic until I was 12 years old. And so when I was five, I figured out how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because there were times when my mom would either burn dinner beyond recognition or pass out before dinner got made. And so that was a very hard way to grow up. It left me with a pretty big legacy to unpack.
I'm proud to say that my mother did go off and get treatment when I was 12. We grew up in a time where alcoholism was not understood, addiction was not understood, there really wasn't a lot of help for families. And so I'm really passionate about making sure that nobody out there has to suffer the way that my family did. You know, my mom struggled with addiction until she finally got treatment and thank God stayed sober until she died. And I feel like her biggest gift to me was her recovery. But it was really, really hard to grow up when there was no one there to help. And I don't want other people to suffer the way that I did.
That's why I'm passionate about what I do and why I sometimes will get on you guys a little bit, just step it up and shake off the beliefs and practices that keep us small. And from realizing our potential because there are people out there like me and my family who need you. So I want you to be there for them and I want you to be able to help them to the greatest degree that you can. So that's another big why I do what I do.
Today, I want to talk about dollars and cents. And I don't mean cents in terms of money. The definition I'm using is S-E-N-S-E, where something is the case and is true. So like common sense, right? So I want to talk to you about the nonprofit sector and the kind of revenue we generate so that you guys have some fun facts to play with. So our sector is called the third sector, the first being corporations and the second one being government. And we're often thought of and treated as less important and less impactful than the other two sectors. But when you look at the data and you think about our role in this country, we are honestly responsible for the quality of life we experience here and we make huge contributions to our economy.
I've said it before, I'll say it again, nonprofits make the quality of life in the US what it is, and it would be abysmal without us. So if you think about it, we'll have no educational institutions, no arts, no hospitals, no health care, no services for elders, youth, families, dogs, cats, the environment. Honestly, what does that leave? Target, Walmart, Home
Depot? So I'm not saying that I don't make my trek to Home Depot and that it's not important. But when you think about, like the quality of life for the average person, nonprofits make a big difference. So we're important.
I've assembled a bunch of fun facts for you. And some of these were not surprising to me. Other ones kind of blew my mind. So there are 1.8 million nonprofits in the United States and 1.5 of them are 501c3. So the difference is that you can have a variety of nonprofit organizations. So foundations fall under the 5019c section of the Internal Revenue Tax Code. There's those of us that are what they call charitable services, and that's 501c3s. But then you have groups like Rotary or Knights of Columbus, and those are 501c4s. So there are a variety of nonprofit types in the United States. But the biggest group is us, 501c3s. So that's 1.5 million organizations. So that's 1.5 million organizations who are in the business, we are in business, of uplifting others and making this country a better place to live.
That does not even include religious organizations who often offer some kind of social program. Excuse me, either those in their community or their congregation or both. So for example, here in Worcester, we have a Catholic church called St. John's, and they operate a homeless shelter, and they also operate showers for the homeless. And they feed people meals, and they provide them with clothes and a place to stay, and obviously showers. So that's one congregation's contribution. We've got another congregation called Blessed Sacrament, and they created a temporary homeless shelter this winter, because here in New England, the temperatures can drop very low, and they didn't want people dying from exposure and hypothermia.
So they created a winter homeless shelter. And then we have another congregation in the area called St. Anne's, and every Tuesday, they run a medical clinic. So they're right near the University of Massachusetts hospital complex. And so doctors and nurses from UMass volunteer to come over on Tuesdays and provide basic medical services. So that's just a handful of examples of the way that religious institutions also contribute to uplifting our communities. I don't know if you know this, but 10.2% of companies in the United States are nonprofits. 10.2%. I don't know if you knew that. That's a pretty big chunk of the economy. We also represent 6% of the United States' GDP, which is another significant contribution.
The gross domestic product measures the monetary value of goods and services, and we often use it as a measuring stick of the economy's health. And we are in the top 13 contributors to GDP in this country. So we beat out a bunch of industries that are in the profit sector. And again, we are big and we are strong and we are doing important, uplifting work. And these numbers are just one reflection of that. We also employ about 16 million people. That's pretty amazing. That's 10% of the US workforce. And we account for about 33% of employment in the United States. One third of all employees work for a nonprofit. That blew my mind. And I guess when you start thinking about like universities or hospitals, or even big university hospital systems, it's pretty easy to imagine how we achieve that number.
But it still was surprising to me that nonprofits employ about a third of the US workforce. So it makes me wonder how come we let ourselves be treated like garbage. So we're the third largest employment industry in the US. So third largest, like, that's amazing. Third largest employer. Our payroll, which is $826 billion exceeds those of most other US industries, including construction, transportation, and finance. Yes, finance. We have a bigger payroll than the finance industry. So that gives you a little bit of a hint on how much money we are contributing to employees and also payroll taxes and other things. So beyond paying taxes on salaries, nonprofit employees also pay taxes on purchases, our own personal purchases, not those for our organization.
We pay property taxes in the event that we own property. And these are other significant contributions to the US economy. We also provide care for children and elderly that enable family members to work outside the home. And let's not downplay this. I was doing some work for an organization that's headquartered in the United States, but most of their work is done in South Africa. And there's a large population in Durban that has HIV or AIDS. And a lot of family members can't work because they have no one to take care of the family member who's ill. And so what they did was we set up a bunch of respite centers in the area so that people would have somebody caring for their family member who was ill, which allowed them to then go and employment opportunities so that they could then bring home money for their families, which in turn obviously uplifted the quality of life for the family.
So let's not underplay the fact that we've got childcare centers or senior centers where the people at both ends of the continuum, of the age continuum, can be cared for well, which then allows us to go and work. And I remember that it was much easier for me when I went back to work after having my son to know that he was in good loving hands. And then I didn't have to worry from nine to five about how my son was doing because I knew he was being cared for well. So that's really important contribution that we make.
The other thing is our organizations consume goods and services that drive the economy and create more jobs and spend nearly a trillion dollars every year for those goods and services. So this could be anything like an x-ray machine, which obviously costs a lot of money, or it could be thumbtacks or pens. So the full gamut of expenses. So we've got office supplies, food, utilities, rent, those are all contributions and we're spending about a trillion dollars a year on that. So again, not only are we providing huge employment opportunities for folks, but we're also spending a trillion dollars collectively towards those goods and services that keep us running in our businesses.
Also, a lot of times just our existence contributes to the quality of life and makes communities more attractive places in which to work. So when people who are unhoused have a safe place to stay, when there are opportunities for people to improve their job skills or their education, then that enables their family to fare better. When we have institutions that provide art and music and other uplifting services, it all contributes to making our communities a better, stronger place to be, which in turn brings in other people who live and work in our communities. And it can also be attractive to businesses.
I know a while ago here in Worcester, they decided they wanted to attract more biotech. And so they did certain things that made that attractive to biotech companies. And now we actually have a pretty significant biotech presence here in Worcester. And so sometimes cities or non-profits can contribute to attracting businesses as well. So there are other statistics that I could share, but I think you get the picture. So now that you know these facts, I want you to stand tall and proud. And in fact, I think you should be wearing a superhero cape or maybe a crown or maybe both.
Maybe you also need a scepter, who knows? I just think there's so many times where people act as if non-profits are a joke or we shouldn't be taken seriously or somehow running a non-profit is easier than a business when actually it's much more difficult. If you're selling widgets, you know whether the widget sales are up, are they down, are you making money, are you breaking even, are you losing money? It's much easier than when you're in a non-profit and you're quilting together tons of different funding sources to make things happen. And you know, if anybody thinks that's a joke, then I would invite them to come work in a non-profit for a week. And I think we're incredibly adaptive.
I think we're resourceful. I think we're creative. And it just kills me that despite the fact that we're the third largest employer, we're still called the third sector as if we're kind of like, well, you're third place, we'll give you a ribbon, but don't expect a trophy. When I think the converse is true, like we are the ones making this huge difference in the United States. We are employing tons of people, we're contributing to the GDP. So this is why I'm telling you all this, because I don't want you for one single second to think that the work you're doing is somehow lesser than the other work that's being done in this country.
It's contributing a massive amount on all sorts of levels. And the work we're doing is vital to the quality of life here in the United States. So stand tall and be proud. And I would really encourage you to share these statistics with everybody you know, because I think we need to be taken more seriously and we need to take ourselves more seriously. And I talk about philanthropy as being an exchange of love, but love really starts with ourselves. So when we love ourselves and are proud of ourselves, and we are doing the work that we know matters in the world, we can, you know, feel that strength and that conviction that we matter and our work matters.
And, you know, I'm sure if you asked your clients, they would tell you your work matters as well. You know, I'm to this day, very, very, very, very grateful to the folks who founded the treatment center my mother went to, you know, my mother went off to treatment in January of 1977. She went to the largest treatment facility for people for women in the country. It was in Erie, Pennsylvania, and it had 12 beds. So it just tells you where addiction treatment was back in the early, well, actually the late seventies. But I'm grateful to those folks because whatever they did for my mom, it's stuck. And so the work you're doing is changing lives and it's impacting lives. And sometimes you're not even around to see the transformation.
You know, if you're providing care for a three-year-old, you're not going to know how they turned out, but I can tell you that the people at my son's daycare were formative in who he turned out to be. And, you know, he spent eight hours a day with them. So certainly more time than he was spending with me during the day anyway. So like it matters, you matter, the work you're doing matters. So let's, let's take these statistics and use it as a way to really improve our self perception and the public perception of nonprofits, because they may call us the third sector, but there's no way we're number three. Right. So let's be proud. So now that you know, the dollars, you can see this crucial role that we play in the nonprofit sector.
So, you know, why do we let ourselves be treated like Cinderella? Why do we settle for the crumbs? And, you know, I was talking with my business mentor about this last week. You know, it's mostly because charity started back in the 1600s. And I've talked about this in another episode, when the Puritans who were Calvinists needed a vehicle for penance, because they were really aggressive capitalists, especially compared to other settlers. And Calvinism taught them that self-interest and therefore money was the road to hell. You're going straight to hell for that.
So they invented charity as their penance. So you can see why they didn't want the charities to make any money. And so this, this is where this belief that we have to keep overhead low and do more with less comes from. Guys, that was 400 years ago. I think we can move on and update the rule book. But you know, we're under this pressure to keep overhead low. And this is where I think these statistics can come in handy, because you can educate people about the impact and the import of the work that we're doing. And, you know, help dispel these myths. And they are myths.
They're stories that we've all bought into. And it's holding us back. It's keeping you from helping families like mine who need help. And I'm not here to guilt trip you or judge you. I'm just saying, I know there are people out there who are suffering. And I know there's lots of nonprofits that have wait lists. And given the billions of dollars that's out there, and the $90 million that I've raised, I know that does not have to be the case. So I'm here to really encourage you to expect more and ask for more. So the bottom line is we actually need more so we can do more. Because stretching every penny to the breaking point isn't helping anyone. It's not helping us. It's not helping our organizations. And it sure as heck not helping our clients. And it's certainly not solving problems.
You know, we kind of often get stuck in this position of handing out Band-Aids or putting our finger in the dike because we can't grow our organizations to the degree that they need to solve problems. So, you know, we've got about 12% of the population living in poverty. And believe it or not, that figure has been relatively stable since Johnson's War on Poverty started in the 1960s. The 1960s, we have not made the needle move on poverty even 1%.
That is sad, especially given that we have billions and billions and billions of dollars in wealth. So I think we can do a little better. And that's why I do what I do. That's why I created this show. I want to show you how we can do better for our organizations and for those we serve. And I realize there are always going to be five-year-olds like me who for various reasons have to figure out how to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But we can be there for them, doors, arms, and hearts wide open. You know, I just I hate to see people suffer unnecessarily.
So let's figure out what it's going to take to up-level our impact, then demand the funding that we need to make that happen. And again, you know, this is a process of reverse engineering. I've told you the story about the group in New York who wanted to serve a million dollars a year, or a million girls a year, sorry. And we reversed engineered, you know, that down to where they were today and where they wanted to go. And we figured it was going to take anywhere from five to 10 years. And that was going to depend on, you know, different circumstances. And they're on their way. And like I've said, they kind of got knocked down at the knees by the pandemic, kind of like we all who knew that was going to happen. But they're getting back on their feet.
They're not wavering from their commitment. And they are determined to help a million girls in the boroughs every year. And so that's what I'm talking about when I talk about up-leveling our impact. So what are your Amazon, Google, Apple dreams, right? Don't hold yourself back by this idea that we have to do more for less, or that we have to keep our overhead low, because again, those are stories. And no one's going to come after you for your overhead. If you're saving more lives, transforming more lives, improving the quality of life for the folks, improving the environment, you know, helping more animals find forever homes, whatever it is your mission is, I don't think anyone's going to complain if you accomplish more of it. In fact, that's why they're supporting you.
Let's not forget that our donors want to see transformation and that foundations believe that they are changemakers. And so they're for you. Sometimes they may also have been reading the same stories that we did, and they might be playing from the same 400-year-old rule book, but I think we can educate people and talk to them about impact and why impact matters and why we shouldn't really look at overhead, because overhead tells you nothing.
So we have to figure out how to uplevel our impact. And who cares if it takes you 10 years? You know, I've been working with an organization for 10 years, and their substance abuse recovery home, and at our planning process in 2018, we decided, well, they decided that they wanted to create a sober house that they were having all these guys graduate from their program. But, you know, if you only have six months under your belt with sobriety, that can be a real challenge to then go out into the world and maintain your sobriety. So the alumni of the program and some of the guys who were in the program were saying, we need a sober house, because what you're doing here is great, and we need more. And so guess what? We have a sober house now.
So it may have taken a little while, and obviously we couldn't, it was really ironic, because we finished the construction and the furnishings and all the outfitting right before the pandemic started. So it's like, yay, the sober house is done, but we can't have anybody live in it. So it did kind of sit there for a little while until we got permission to start allowing people to move in. But it took a while, you know, we came up with that dream in 2018. We did a lot of research, talked to other sober homes, looked at properties, it took a while to find a property that was big enough.
And now we have a sober home for Jeremiah Zinn. So it can take time. And it doesn't matter because you're on, you have a roadmap and you have kind of like this end destination in mind. And so there's billions and billions and billions of dollars out there to fund important missions like yours. And so I don't want you to get trapped in the thinking like, oh, we can't ever raise money for that. There's plenty of clients that are now, have doubled their budgets because of the fundraising that we've been able to do. And so if we can do it, you can do it. And this is what I do, I teach people how to do it. So we are the backbone of the quality of life in the United States. And let's not forget that. And we need to let people know.
So that was my rant for today. I'm going to get off my little soapbox. Again, I want to remind you guys that enrollment for my online group coaching program is open. Your entire organization gets access to the program. So it's the funnel 905 curriculum. And that's the framework I've used to raise $90 million with my clients. Everything I do is in there. There's sample materials, there's videos and cover grants, I cover individual donors, I cover how to get your board to do fundraising, which I think we all love to know how to crack that nut, right? Doing strategic planning and then social media and communications. And then there's other stuff in there too, surprise bonuses. And I will continually add stuff that I think will add value to it.
So beyond access to the curriculum, which your entire organization has, so I know often the person writing the grants is not the person doing the social media or working with the board. So I just want your whole organization to get access. And then I have two coaching calls a month. So two hours of free on the fly coaching. So you never have to get stuck. You can get all your questions answered pretty quickly. And it's only 397 a month. And that's only going to be good through the end of June. So we'll make sure that you guys get the enrollment link to make sure that happens.
And as usual, I'd invite you to follow me on social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram. We've got a YouTube channel where you can find recordings of this, the philanthropy revolution, and then on Twitter. So I also want to tell you a little bit about my next show, because I'm really excited. So I'm going to have my first guest. His name is Jared Slack. And Jared is a phenomenal human being. If any of you saw Queer Eye season six in Austin, Texas, you may remember Chris from the Other Ones Foundation. And so I've been working with them.
I saw Queer Eye, got inspired, called them, said, hey, I'd love to help you guys. And they were like, okay. So I've been working with two for a little while now, and they are building a permanent homeless encampment. And I know that sounds counterintuitive, but there's a story behind that. But anyway, Jared is an amazing fundraiser. He's got really good instincts, and he does relational fundraising. So that's one thing I'm very passionate about. But I want you to hear from Jared's own mouth how he raised $5 million for Esperanza, just leveraging relationships.
The other thing that's really cool about Jared is that he has helped develop the service model at Esperanza, and they call it kinship. So that everybody on the staff knows every single person in the encampment, and they have a personal relationship. And they go to the community. There's a residence council. So they have input. But I don't want to tell you too much, because Jared's going to be here on the 15th of June to tell you all about it. So I hope you'll join me then. T
hank you so much for coming on board today and listening to me rant a little more. But I hope it helps you feel better about what the nonprofit sector is doing to change the world. So thank you. See you next time. Thanks for tuning in. I'll be back in two weeks with another episode. Got topics you want me to cover? Organizations you want me to showcase? Let me know. Also, I'm here to help you revolutionize philanthropy at your nonprofit. If you want to talk about what that looks like, drop me an email.