Timothy Schmaltz

Nonprofits As Trusted Messengers During This Election Year

posted by
Timothy J. Schmaltz,
ASU Lodestar Center
NMI Instructor /
PAFCO Coordinator
Protecting Arizona's
Family Coalition

Nonprofits have a unique character in our society. And it is not just their legal status. This legal status recognizes that nonprofits exist for more than a bottom line. Nonprofits exist for the community.

Most nonprofits don’t think of themselves as a political organization. Yet, nonprofits by their nature are an integral part of any community’s life. Nonprofits fight poverty, provide great venues for art and music, challenge homelessness, help organize civic life, promote the common good and a host of other functions that puts human community and the common good before profits and a narrow band of investors.

Nonprofits have distinctive characteristics such as: focus on mission and community benefit, the work as a calling, a unique satisfaction while making a difference over making money, loyalty and relationships which can create a unique sense of community and cohesiveness among staff, board and volunteers. These special attributes provide a new fertile ground for empowering people being served as a source of great political power.

Nonprofit employees, boards, and volunteers have common goals, shared values, professional interests and motivations for services. This is what keeps them together, not the possibility of profits, or even raises. They share a mission of community service and benefit. In the 21st century, the workplace, especially the nonprofit workplace, takes on a new meaning and cohesiveness. It becomes a community of distinctive interest, of shared values and mission, a voluntary association that has power. It may be un-realized power, but power nevertheless.

Nonprofit Fundraising and Advocacy

posted by
Timothy J. Schmaltz,
ASU Lodestar Center
NMI Instructor /
PAFCO Coordinator
Protecting Arizona's
Family Coalition

A few years ago, a nonprofit executive was bragging to me about a fundraising breakthrough he had when he had gotten a new $5,000 donation from a local foundation and how much effort he, his board, his development director, and others spent wooing and making their case for the contribution.

He thought he would get at least three or four years of funding in about the same range. In the same conversation he lamented to me how much government funding he was losing because of state budget cuts for his core mission and programs. He didn’t seem to see the irony — or the connections between his comments.

Government funding for many nonprofits, particularly health and human services nonprofits in Arizona, can be anywhere from 50% to 90% of the agency funding. Yet, nonprofits don’t see the connection to advocacy for the people they serve as their major fundraising activity. Nonprofits are the backbone of the health and human services community, and, when the government stops funding them, the whole community suffers in lost community capacity, lost jobs, lost economic activity, and lost community benefit. 


In the last three years in Arizona, many health and human services have lost over 25% or more of their state funding at least, depending upon area of concern. Childcare alone has lost all its general funding for low-income families. Funding for domestic violence, homelessness, aging, child welfare, and mental health services have all been cut substantially. For the most part, all these types of services are provided by nonprofits. General funding for the arts has been entirely eliminated. Funding for environmental causes is always under attack even in a ballot measure recently rejected by the voters.

Yet many nonprofit groups sit on the sidelines pretending that advocacy is not within their mission. Or they may be hampered by a board vision which supports their charitable work, but not that “political stuff.”