In 2006, the Sustainable Communities Working Group of Washington Grantmakers began discussions focused on Prince George's County and why most, if not all, of the foundations around the table were either not funding organizations in the county or funding them at a significantly reduced level compared to their funding in surrounding counties. With this realization, the group decided to partner with The Community Foundation for Prince George's County to host a series of forums to learn more about the county, as well as get to the root of why more private and corporate funding was not going into the county.
Key findings from those forums included:
- Community needs throughout the county outpace nonprofit's abilities to meet those deficiencies
- Prince George's County nonprofits raise less than 13 percent of their income from private foundations, the lowest in suburban Maryland
- The nonprofit sector is largely absent from discussions about how public dollars are spent
- County nonprofits have few connective advocacy agencies to raise their visibility and drive a shared social agenda
- The County's multicultural composition makes it an ideal place for early experimentation with strategies designed to build leadership, reduce conflict, and combat structural racism.
A report, Making Connections: The Nonprofit Sector in Prince George's County, produced by Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations in October 2007 not only supported but further elaborated on the key findings of the Partnership's forums:
- Prince George's County is in the top-five most generous counties in the nation in terms of the percentage of disposable income residents donate to charities.
- Prince George's County's nonprofit sector includes 3,094 nonprofits, including only 561 organizations with annual revenue over $25,000.
- The per capita nonprofit revenue in Prince George's County is $8,124, the lowest in the region.
- The number of nonprofits per 10,000 residents is 7.5 compared to the state average of 13.0.
- Eighty percent of Prince George's County's nonprofits are below $25,000 in annual revenue, compared to the state average of 67%. The number of organizations with $1m or more in revenue is small (114) and has not grown in the past 5 years.
- The overall growth rate in the number of nonprofits in Prince George's County has been 18% over five years, similar to the state average of 19%. The growth rate in the number of nonprofits over $25,000 in revenue is only 9%, far lower than the state average of 16%.
- Significant inequities exist in the provision of programs for children in poverty compared to all neighboring jurisdictions.
- Prince George's County's secular nonprofits gain their funding from a range of sources, with 70% of overall funding coming from fees for services. Private sources account for 16% of revenue, followed by government at 14%.
- Prince George's County government provides $1.7m per year in grants to local nonprofits, a per capita rate of $2. Surrounding jurisdictions provide grants to local nonprofits at a rate of $9-$10 per capita.
- Prince George's County's secular nonprofits have the second-lowest level of support from private donations in the region at 14%.
- Prince George's County has an active faith-based community with more than 700 churches and other religious institutions. Prince George's is home to 12 mega churches, out of only 32 in Maryland and 1,200 in the United States. Both large and small faith-based organizations are very involved in providing social services.
- The capacity building and networking organizations serving the county are nascent and need to be developed.
- Important new initiatives are under development across the county that can be built upon, such as the Gateway Arts District, Camp Springs Arts District, funder collaboration, and more.
With this information in-hand, it helped to paint the picture of why more private and corporate foundation investment was not coming into Prince George's County. Armed with this data, the Working Group decided to do a few key things:
- Formalize the working group into a collaboration focused specifically on Prince George's County.
- Move the collaboration from Washington Grantmakers, a regional association of grantmakers based in Washington D.C., to The Community Foundation for Prince George's County. In doing so, it not only grounded the collaborative in the local community, but it invested in the County's community foundation, thus helping to build its capacity.
- Officially named itself the Partnership for Prince George's County, created a mission statement and overarching goal which is to increase leadership and advocacy within the nonprofit community and formalized a governing body (the Steering Committee).
- Focus initially in the inner beltway communities of the County as a starting place to concentrate impact.
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