The 14 nonprofit organizations that provide “safety net” services in Arlington County are cost effective, collaborate with one another, rescue the most vulnerable residents and contribute to the local economy, a major new report on the sector said.
Those conclusions are not surprising, given that they come from the 15-month-old Marymount University Nonprofit Resource Center, in partnership with the Arlington Community Foundation. But the anecdote-filled and data-rich report, unveiled earlier this month, spells out how the groups have helped provide basic necessities to the 8 percent of county residents (about 17,000 people) who fall below the federal poverty line.
“We wanted to tell the story of what poverty looks like in Arlington and who these people are,” said Anne Vor der Bruegge, director of the center. “We also wanted to show how the nonprofits work together. . . . I think it’s pretty special here in Arlington as far as the degree of collaboration we have.”
The report, “Arlington’s Safety-Net Nonprofits: Advancing the Common Good,” spells out the volume of help that the groups provide.
→Arlington Free Clinic, for example, served more than 1,600 uninsured residents last year with about 500 volunteers, including medical professionals.
→Arlington Food Assistance Center, which receives no state or federal funds, served more than 9,000 people each week in 2015, a 19.4 percent increase in demand for food over the previous year, which itself was a 26 percent increase over 2013.
→AHC, one of several groups that builds affordable housing, opened a new 83-unit apartment complex on Columbia Pike called the Shell. The facility quickly had 500 applicants on the waiting list.
The nonprofit groups’ combined efforts strengthen the community, the report found, by filling gaps in government services. The groups’ collaboration in providing services, sharing donated goods and services, and attracting philanthropic support benefits them all.
The report also said the organizations save the county money in addition to bringing in revenue. The cost of incarcerating one person for a year is at least $25,000 in Virginia, for example. But Guest House, a post-release transition program, costs $12,500 for one woman for one year.
Although $14.5 million in nonprofit revenues came from government sources, an additional $17 million came from cash contributions from nongovernment sources. The nonprofit sector in Arlington employs 444 people, 296 of them full time. Their salaries, wages and benefits total $24 million. Nearly $2 million in employment taxes and $6.6 million in property taxes were returned to the government, the report said.