By Chevera Blakemore
When I graduated from college with a degree in Political Science, I soon realized that, like the many others that had not already landed a job, there were little options in my field other than going to law school or graduate school. I began to search for jobs in any field. I just needed a job; any job. One month after graduation, I found one. It was a great job for a heating and air conditioning company. I worked with great people, made great money, and had a great supervisor. Eventually, though, I realized that was not the place for me. So again I was back to the drawing board. I soon realized the truth in the statement, “It is not about what you know, but whom you know.” Through friends, I secured a job at a city-sponsored non-profit organization that provided housing for the needy. My first exhilarating experience was assisting a mother of four children who was also a victim of domestic abuse. I loved the mission behind the housing authority, and it was there that my interest in non-profit work grew.
After leaving the housing authority, I went to work for another non-profit organization. It provided child care assistance to parents that could not afford the costly expense of having a safe, secure, and state-regulated facility look after their children while they earned a living or pursued an education. In my time with this organization, I assisted a woman whose ex-husband, the father of her child, killed her parents and older son. When I began law school, I could not help but have non-profit organizations on the forefront of my mind. In fact, currently I work for a great non-profit, and eventually my goal is to serve as general counsel for a large non-profit organization.
Through my years of working for various non-profit organizations, their ample importance became apparent to me. Non-profit organizations provide some of the major necessities of life: food, shelter, education, and child care assistance, just to name a few. There are other non-profit organizations that enhance the quality of lives, such as organizations that help mend broken marriages, assist blended families in adjusting to their roles as stepchildren and stepparents, and allow children to participate in extracurricular activities through their local YMCA. Almost everyone will come into contact with a non-profit, whether you need its services, choose to volunteer, or donate money. Nevertheless, many of us discount the value of these organizations in our lives.
When analyzing the economy, most analysts overlook the non-profit sector. However, non-profit organizations contribute to the economy just as much their profit-making counterparts. They employ 10.5 million workers―nearly ten percent of the private workers in the United States; they generate eight percent of the GDP; and they produce approximately $700 billion in annual revenues. Non-profit organizations provide jobs, and these jobs, in turn, provide services that are a necessity to some, and an increase in the quality of life for others. The people who work for profit-making companies are, generally, the same type of individuals who work for non-profit organizations. They work to make a living. They work to provide for their families. The only difference is that their work is going to the “greater good.” The reason they may have taken a pay cut to work for a non-profit organization is because they agree with the mission behind the organization.
With the economy in a downturn and for-profit industries reducing the number of positions created, non-profit organizations are increasing the number of positions in their organizations. Over the last three to four years, non-profit organizations have grown over five percent, while for-profit industry growth has declined over eight percent. It could be argued that the increase among non-profit organizations is a result of the downward slope in the economy: people losing their jobs are starting to depend on the services that these organizations provide. This is a valid argument. Nonetheless, whether or not the economy is in a recession, there is still a huge need for these organizations. They supply education from a preschool level to a university level; they showcase the arts to the underprivileged; and they are often a safe haven to victims of domestic violence.
If given the chance to support any non-profit organization in any fashion, whether it is donating, volunteering, or having the privilege to work for them, I urge you to do so with excitement. These organizations need your support, and if you spend any amount of time involving yourself with them, I am sure your life will be enhanced because of it. Non-profit organizations need all of the support they can receive, but, more importantly, our society needs non-profit organizations.
 See Peter Manzo, Importance of the Nonprofit Sector, 20 The Los Angeles Bus. J. No 46, Nov. 16-22, 1998; Lester Salamon, Nonprofit Employment Up In Downturn, Philanthropy J., Sep. 6, 2011, available at http://www.philanthropyjournal.org/news/top-stories/nonprofit-employment-downturn (last visited Feb. 29, 2012).
 See Lester Salamon, supra.