Moved Beyond Measure

by Kristen Merrifield

The air moving in and out of our lungs is something that, while we cannot see it, moves us — it provides us with critical, life-giving breath that allows us to live and do all the things we love most in life. It even gives us the strength and endurance to confront and overcome life’s most difficult moments. This unseen yet powerful force is always present, yet not often considered until we stop for a moment and allow ourselves to focus on it.

Just like our breath, the work and impact of charitable nonprofits is interwoven into every aspect of our lives, from birth, through life, and even in death. All of us benefit from nonprofits’ work more than we may ever know. The challenge is, nonprofit work is just like our breath: We may take it for granted because we don’t see it, and, therefore, we don’t value it accordingly. We often value only the things that we can measure — those very tangible things that we can see and touch in our currently reality.

You don’t think you’ll lose your job and your home, so you don’t focus on the nonprofits that provide employment services or that build low-income housing or that run food banks. You don’t think you’ll end up with a disability, so you don’t think about the nonprofits that work tirelessly to make sure buildings are accessible. You don’t think your kids will ever get bullied, so you don’t consider the nonprofits working to end bullying in schools.

It is in those moments that we realize the most important things in life cannot be measured. And, just like we can’t count the number of breaths we have left in life, we can’t measure the value of nonprofits until we move beyond the data and the numbers. It is then we have the opportunity to be moved beyond measure.

What would happen tomorrow if you woke up and nonprofits were all gone? Nonprofits are the fifth-largest non-government employer in the state of Arizona — responsible for 167,000 direct jobs, and 325,000 indirectly when you consider the impact on vendors and suppliers, which could include many of you who own your own businesses.

Nonprofits generate $10.4 billion of Arizona’s Gross State Product — which balloons to $12 billion when you consider the ripple effect when we pay our employees who spend their wages in the economy. Without the contribution of nonprofits, all of these dollars and jobs would be gone.

What would that impact be to you, your family, your friends, your neighbors? If you appreciate all the free art and music all around you, it’s probably because there nonprofits supporting amazing artists and musicians in the community. If you own your own business, you may be hiring people who have been helped by nonprofits who provide job readiness skills and employment services. If you or anyone you love has a serious illness, there’s probably a nonprofit working hard to find the cure.

All of the nonprofits gone, overnight? That of course won’t happen. But … what happens when just one person who needs our help doesn’t get served? What if that one person is you, your spouse, your child, your friend? What would the impact be to you?

How do you even begin to measure that impact? It can’t bemeasured. At that point, all the numbers don’t matter. We are moved beyond measure to get the resources we need for ourselves and our person. Here’s the thing — nonprofits view every person as you view your person.

We all have the opportunity to be moved beyond measure. We are empowered to ensure that nonprofits will always be there when we need them the most, and that, just as our breath, we choose not to take them for granted. And we, as nonprofits, choose to not take all of you for granted, either. What you may not realize is that YOU are the breath to nonprofits, enabling them to give this support to our communities that we all need.

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