Survey highlights economic impact of non-profits in Cape Girardeau

By Kathy Sweeney - bio | email

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A morning of bargain hunting at the Safe House for Women Thrift Shop in Cape Girardeau translates into needed services for local victims of domestic abuse.

"They need everything," said volunteer Betty Autry. "One hundred percent. Things we take for granted are very valuable to them."

But, while it's hard to put a dollar figure on that value, Safe House Executive Director Linda Garner feels there is a number attached to her non-profit's impact.

"Most people in the community recognize us as social service providers. But, a lot of times, we think we're overlooked in terms of the economic impact that we can have in the community," Garner said.

So Garner and other non-profit leaders enlisted the help of Southeast Business research specialist Dr. Bruce Domazlicky.

Domazlicky often does impact studies for local businesses, but this is the first time he's done one for non-profits.

Domazlicky created a two page survey, then crunched the numbers of the 15 local non-profits that responded. The result? He found the 15 share a total income of nearly $31 million.

"What we found was that we had $10 million payroll for the non-profits that replied," said Dr. Domazlicky.

Domazlicky also found the 15 spent more than $2 million on local goods and services.

At Lutheran Children and Family Services, pregnancy counselor Evelyn Martin helps local women facing a crisis pregnancy.

"So we end up helping with baby supplies, baby clothes, furniture, those sorts of things that are purchased from local businesses," Martin said.

The non-profit survey also highlighted another economic benefit. The 15 trained 40 undergraduate and 12 graduate students in just the past year alone.  Martin's agency works with social work and child development students from Southeast.

"We most often do have at least one student here that's training, shadowing the workers here, getting experience," she said.

But Domazlicky, a business and numbers expert,  found the greatest value in something even he couldn't put a dollar value on.

"We also asked, for example, how many volunteers these non-profits had," he said.  "And it was a little over 6400. These are people who have volunteered almost 180,000 hours of their time because they believe in what these non-profits were doing."

The Safe House's Linda Garner wants the survey to reflect the stable, profitable business she's running, as she her staff continue the business of helping those in need.

"We hope that members of the business community gain something from the information in terms of awareness of our impact and maybe appreciate the contribution that we make to the economy," Garner said.

Members of the Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce heard the results of the non-profit survey at a meeting this morning in Cape.

Afterwards, Chamber President John Mehner told me the figures impressed him, and so did the overall impact the non-profits have.

"The number of people involved in those organizations, either through service time, boards, allowing their employees to participate in the organizations," Mehner explained.  "I mean the entire room's involved in some way, shape, or form".

Other chamber members commented on the volunteer hours, local purchases, and large number of non-profits in Cape as new information they learned from Dr. Domazlicky's survey.

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