Northeastern PA Nonprofit and Community Assistance Center (NCAC)

It is a pleasure to be part of tonight’s celebration honoring and recognizing individuals and non profits in our community.

Each of your organizations does so much for so many. Some of you are working to help special needs and at-risk children. Others are offering comfort and aid to the sick or providing guidance and support to people in need. Many of you are committed to caring for and about animals. Still others devote your time to preserving our environment, improving literacy or promoting arts and culture.

You do it all, quietly and effectively, making a difference in our community and improving the quality of life in our region. For that we say thank you.

The judges had a very difficult task in selecting “winners.” Each of the nominees is deserving of special recognition. I offer my congratulations and best wishes for a job well done. While some of you will go home with a designation or a certificate, all of you should leave here tonight knowing that your contributions are invaluable and very much appreciated.

I would also like to congratulate NCAC on 28 years of service. As we all know, the competition for public and private dollars is keen. NCAC is a tremendous resource.

I encourage each of you to take advantage of their services to make your organization stronger, and in the long run, more competitive. Use the professionals and their expertise. Tap into their resources to make the most of your requests. Their guidance and assistance is only a phone call or seminar away.

As we talk about volunteerism and philanthropy, I think it is important to note America’s tradition of giving. The basic principle of neighbor helping neighbor built this country. Historians can trace it all the way back to when our first settlers reached this land and did everything they could to survive in a harsh new world.

Back then, if neighbors didn’t help neighbors, they all perished.

Out of these experiences grew citizen involvement and individual effort – all for the public good. We are fortunate that this has endured.

As you continue in this tradition, you have a difficult job in finding new sources of funding to support your missions. We know your development directors are pretty creative people, but fundraising and “friend raising” become more challenging in tough economic times. People would like to give, but they just gave at the gas station or the check out counter.

Fortunately, in good times and bad times, Pennsylvania is home to some very generous individuals, and private and community foundations.

In this era of public scrutiny and accountability, the people who write the checks want to see services expanded and more people helped. Grant makers at every level are seeking broader services and better results. If you can’t show that you are making a difference, and make people pay attention to and appreciate what you’re doing, it’s going to hurt your chances.

One of the hardest jobs I’ve ever had was serving as the director of a foundation. Many people believe it’s about giving away big checks – nothing could be further from the truth.

Andrew Carnegie once said, “It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than it is to earn it in the first place.”

Grant makers have a difficult job – more often, they say no. When they say yes, you become their good will ambassadors. As you deliver the program or service, they in turn, delight in learning of the people you touch.

God bless those organizations that can make their way without public funding. In this day and age, most are dependent on both public and private dollars.

For state officials, unfortunately, tough times force tough decisions. The pleas for help rise at the same time our revenues fall.

It is our job to figure out a way to get the most help – to the most people – to make the most impact – all without clobbering the taxpayer in the process.

Some policy makers believe the non profit sector takes away from communities. Some officials resent that they can’t tax you. What they fail to consider is the high cost involved if government attempted to pay for all that charitable groups contribute to our citizens and communities.

We have all been at a crossroads where we decide whether to do something ourselves or pay someone else to do it.

If you pay someone else, sometimes you get high quality, sometimes the quality is indifferent and sometimes you end with a mess that requires “Mr. Fix-it.”

But when you do it yourself, there is a level of commitment and care, and a sense of satisfaction, that cannot be equaled. So it is with community involvement and charitable contribution. Your commitment, your caring, and your emotional rewards from the beneficial results, cannot be matched. As the popular commercial puts it, these things are priceless.

 Contact: Brian Grove
bgrove@pasen.gov
(570) 675-3931