Arlington Safety-Net Nonprofits Make Significant Impact in Arlington Community: Nonprofit Resource Center Releases New Report

Arlington’s Safety-Net Nonprofits: Advancing the Common Good describes the social and economic contributions of 14 Arlington “safety-net” nonprofits that provide the most basic necessities for a stable life: housing and shelter; health and mental health services; food; and emergency and employment assistance.

The report was produced by the Marymount University Nonprofit Resource Center in Partnership with the Arlington Community Foundation. These two institutions — Marymount and the Arlington Community Foundation — created the Center in late 2014 to educate the public on pressing community needs and to support Arlington’s nonprofits in meeting those needs. The report will be released and discussed at Arlington Central Library on Feb. 1 from 5 to 6 p.m. The community at large is invited to this event.

The safety-net nonprofits strive to be accessible and user-friendly to community members in their most vulnerable times. Many individuals — seniors needing a supportive living environment, working parents who have lost a job and have children to feed, uninsured individuals who face a serious health diagnosis — find immediate help from these nonprofits. The high cost of living in Arlington means that many residents are one such setback away from instability, or have already fallen through the cracks.

“These nonprofits are witnesses to those who face challenges and are key players in making Arlington a caring community that values and supports all of its residents,” explains Anne Vor der Bruegge, director of the Nonprofit Resource Center. A central theme of the report is that Arlington’s safety-net nonprofits are cost-effective at providing high-quality affordable services by leveraging donated goods and services and attracting corporate, philanthropic and public funds. In the past year, for example, Arlington Free Clinic provided ongoing medical care to over 1,600 uninsured community members by coordinating the services of 500 volunteers and accessing several million dollars in donated medications.

The report highlights the degree to which the organizations multiply their impact through strategic collaboration with each other and in public-private partnerships with Arlington County. Each organization focuses on what it does best while ensuring that clients access additional services they need from other organizations. For example, Doorways for Women and Children partners with the Arlington Partnership for Affordable Housing to help victims of domestic violence find safe housing while working with the victims to build their self-sufficiency and heal from the trauma of abuse.

A social return on investment analysis reveals the value delivered and costs avoided by these nonprofits, and indicates that investments in them are responsible ones. And, they contribute to Arlington’s economy: in fiscal year 2015, these 14 nonprofits generated $58 million in revenues, employed 444 individuals and paid $6.6 million in property taxes.

Wanda Pierce, executive director of the Arlington Community Foundation, shared: “This report demonstrates that the work of these organizations is critical to the stability of our community. The Foundation values their contributions and is honored to support their efforts through grantmaking and convening.”

The full report is available online.

The Nonprofit Resource Center leverages the role of the Arlington Community Foundation as convener and catalyst and Marymount University’s commitment to service to strengthen Arlington nonprofits.  The Center is a knowledge hub for Arlington nonprofits. The Arlington Community Foundation provides funding and other material support to the Center as a means of extending its investments in Arlington nonprofits. Marymount students and faculty provide valuable services while being exposed to issues that transcend the formal academic environment.