3 Good Reasons to Care About Data Advocacy (and 2 Things You Can Do About It)

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides quarterly data on employment and wages for industries, including goat farming and limousine service, but not for the nation’s third-largest workforce – the nonprofit sector. In the absence of regular workforce data, nonprofits must divert valuable resources to gather replacement data and are forced to rely on estimates and uncertain projections. Regular access to quarterly jobs data from BLS will help the sector and individual charities demonstrate our impact and aid in our recovery. Why should you care? Here are three reasons:

  1. Nonprofits Are an Economic Force and Everyone Should Know It

At more than 10% of the private workforce, the nonprofit sector is a major job creator and component of local economies, outdistancing all branches of manufacturing, all construction, and all finance and insurance. The depth and breadth of nonprofits’ economic role often surprises policymakers and the public, in part due to the lack of timely information about the sector. As we’ve seen with the Affordable Care Act and COVID-19 relief legislation, nonprofits are often an afterthought and our workforce is regularly overlooked in policy decisions. Presenting policymakers regular nonprofit employment data, alongside preexisting data of other industries, can ensure the sector is not forgotten.

  1. Data Makes a Difference in Advocating for Relief

Regular, reliable workforce data could have helped sector advocates qualify for essential supports and further their impact during the height of the pandemic. Laura Walling, Senior Director of Government Affairs at Goodwill Industries International said, “While advocating for relief from Congress during the height of the pandemic, it was difficult to ascertain up to date information about the nonprofit sector. Reliable nonprofit workforce data would have been helpful in making a stronger case for the urgent need for support, demonstrate the impact that the pandemic was having on nonprofits, and the value of the services that we provide.”

  1. Nonprofits Face an Uneven Pandemic Recovery

Our sector is facing an uneven pandemic recovery, with over 700,000 jobs still missing and over a year estimated to recover them. Providing policymakers and nonprofit executives with adequate information showing the impact of COVID-19 on the sector is key to ensuring we are not left out of recovery efforts as we continue to provide essential services. Mina Kato, a Specialist in Advocacy Communications at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), uses jobs data estimates “in conversation with Hill staff to underscore the need for enhanced charitable giving incentives, particularly around the universal charitable deduction, to help support nonprofit sector workforces and alleviate some of the difficulties the sector is facing as a result of the pandemic.”

What You Can Do:

Our collective advocacy is needed to address the shortage of essential workforce data and to ensure that charitable organizations have the resources needed to achieve their missions. Access this toolkit and add your organization to this sign-on letter to join this sector-wide effort to secure regular, reliable employment and wage data.

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Civil Society, Community, Data, Infrastructure, Nonprofit Health, Voices for Good
Policy Issues: Civil Society Infrastructure, Nonprofit Operations