March 20, 2020

Raise Your Voice! Mission Matters

It is absolutely critical that nonprofits, including zoos and aquariums and your institution, make a strong case to get additional stimulus investment. Every business is being impacted by the COVID-19 virus and nonprofits are no different. Nonprofits, including zoos, aquariums, cultural attractions, and gardens, have an economic impact which rivals, and in many cases exceeds, for-profit industries. While much of the talk to date has been focused on helping businesses, everyone needs help.

That’s why it’s so important to raise your voice now. Call out the importance of the organizations we work for, not only for our missions, but also for the financial benefits we bring to the communities we serve. Consider:

  • With 12.3 million paid workers, the nonprofit sector employs more workers than several major U.S. industries. Nonprofits employ twice as many workers as the nation’s transportation, wholesale trade, and finance and insurance industries and 80% more workers than the nation’s construction industry.
    John Hopkins Study 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report

  • The 215 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in the U.S. serve more than 183 million annual visitors and support over 212,000 jobs, generating $24 billion in the total value of goods and services generated directly and indirectly as a result of annual outlays by AZA members and their visitors.
    —”AZA Zoos and Aquariums Contribute $24 Billion to U.S. Economy

  • Zoos of all sizes have outsized impacts. ZA has worked with large to small zoos and all deliver significant returns to their communities:

    • A large zoo in the Midwest is projected to have an impact of nearly $1.4 billion over ten years after it opens a new facility.

    • Between 2011 and 2017, Akron Zoo in Ohio had a total economic impact of $407 million.

    • Between 2016 and 2018, Potawatomi Zoo in Indiana had an economic impact of over $80 million in its community.

    • Between 2019 and 2028, Santa Ana Zoo in California is projected to have an impact of over $203 million in the City of Santa Ana, and $274 million in Orange County.

  • Museums contribute $50 billion a year to the U.S. economy; support 726,000 jobs annually; and generate $12 billion in tax revenue to local, state, and federal governments. Museums are economic engines and play an essential role in the nation’s educational infrastructure, spending more than $2 billion a year on education.
    —”Urge Your Legislators to Include Museums in COVID-19 Relief and Economic Stimulus”

  • In greater Philadelphia, more than 30 public gardens, arboreta, historical landscapes and supporting organizations have a total annual economic impact estimated at $256 million on an annual basis and support 1,520 jobs.
    —”The Economic Impact of Greater Philadelphia Gardens

The specifics of how economic stimulus dollars will flow are still evolving and there may be additional investments made in the future. America’s corporations are lobbying for their share. You should too, and you need a plan.

Here’s what you should being doing right now:

  1. Pull together your numbers—attendance, education visits, jobs, and your own economic study results (if you have one) to help quantify your impact.

  2. Reach out to your legislators—federal, state, and local—to emphasize the impact you have and the many ways you serve your community—economically, educationally, and by enhancing the quality of life.

  3. Enlist more champions and advocates to do the same and arm them with the facts and figures to help make your case. Make sure your Board, current donors, and community leaders know all you do and what you need.

  4. Reach out to your members and ask them to support your cause as well. They may not be able to give you their money now, but they can ask the government to help.

  5. Follow the news…and the money. Dollars will start flowing—you need it flowing to you too.

  6. If you have a lobbyist, start talking with them yesterday. If you don’t, it might be time to find one.

  7. Join with other nonprofits to help make a collective and stronger case for support. Click to read “Asking Congress to Support Museums in COVID-19 Response”.

  8. Deliver a targeted message to your Members of Congress supporting your financial request. Click to visit the Action Alert in AZA’s Legislative Education Center.

  9. Look at all potential sources of funding support, including low interest loans from various agencies and entities.

  10. Continue to build relationships with your community—they can be your best advocates.

  11. Demonstrate your importance to the community by being a resource in this time of need. Click to read our recent post on “Community Action: The Antidote to Anxiety”.

Zoo Advisors is here to help. Drop us an email if you’d like to schedule time to speak. We’re available to advise on how you can get your share on a pro-bono basis.

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