The Importance of the Nonprofit Sector

The simple act of shifting your spending can radically change your community.

Despite recent economic challenges and increased demand on nonprofits during the current economic climate, the sector has seen a modest growth of about 2% annually. Latest figures show that the 8,401 organizations comprising New Hampshire’s nonprofit sector employ 102,000 individuals, which is 1 in 7 of the state’s workforce. The impact to the state’s bottom line is over $9 billion per year to state GDP; 15.1% of NH GDP.*

“The nonprofit sector has been growing at a breakneck pace. From 2001 to 2011, the number of nonprofits in the United States grew 25 percent while the number of for-profit businesses rose by half of 1 percent, according to the most recent figures compiled by the Urban Institute. There are still considerably more businesses than nonprofits, about four times as many. But over that period, nonprofits also outpaced businesses in their percentage growth in hiring, wages and contribution to the gross domestic product, according to the Urban Institute.” – Innovation Daily


A healthy and vibrant region in which all community members benefit from the vital programs provided by the region’s nonprofit organizations and give generously of their time and resources to help those nonprofits thrive.


To provide nonprofit leaders, board members and staff with the capacity-building support and networking opportunities they need to manage their organizations successfully and contribute to a thriving local economy and vibrant community.

Programs and Activities

Resources for Nonprofits

History of the Nonprofit Industry Cluster

As a significant sector of New Hampshire’s economy, Hannah Grimes added Nonprofits to its Industry Cluster Project in 2010 by incorporating nonprofit programming previously offered through Giving Monadnock, an independent 501(c)(3) organization. This evolution allows continued opportunities to provide programs and resources to Monadnock region nonprofits in a more economical and efficient manner.

*Excerpted from New Hampshire’s NONPROFIT SECTOR: IN BRIEF published by the NH Center for Nonprofits and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation

A Cool Nonprofit That Everyone Should Know About…

Monadnock Buy Local, started in 2009, works to educate customers, businesses, and government agencies about the benefits of a shift in spending by giving back to the community and purchasing from locally owned businesses.  Jen Risley, one of the founders of Monadnock Buy Local was already at the forefront of the buy local trend with her work at the Hannah Grimes Center when she was recruited by the Keene Downtown Group to start this non-profit. Jen points out numerous ways that buying local is beneficial to the health of any community. She explains that when dollars are spent at a local business, the money is more likely to remain in local circulation, as it is probable that that local business will in turn spend that money at local businesses or service providers. Additionally, these business owners, residents of the area, are more likely to be invested in the future prosperity and liability of their community.

Jen goes on to say that buying local is also environmentally friendly. The products are not packaged and shipped from great distances, but rather are crafted or hand grown in the region and therefore require minimal packaging and transportation to reach customers. To those who doubt that this can really make a difference, Jen is ready with an onslaught of convincing statistics. For example, transportation by shipping produces emissions of one billion metric tons of Co2 and uses 11 billion gallons of fuel per year internationally. Additionally, the United States imports $2.2 Trillion worth of produce yearly from over 150 countries. “Imagine if our small communities were more sustainable and a portion of this money could be spent on education? Healthcare?” Jen says this as she counts the possibilities off on her right hand. Lastly, the presence of many local businesses adds to the quaint and unique aura of the region; giving it the friendly and community oriented feel that many people will travel or move for to experience.

Mary Ann Kristiansen, founder of Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship and advisor for Monadnock Buy Local says that buying local “simply makes sense.” She mentions two economic theories that support the benefits of buying local. First is the “leaky bucket” theory. If a local economy is a leaky bucket, money comes in and money goes out. The more “leaks” of money going out of an economy can be plugged, the more a community can begin to build wealth. The other theory is “Import Subsititution”. It ties into the leaky bucket theory and encourages individuals, businesses and communities to identify what their “imports” are and whether there is a way to substitute local products or services for those imports. Mary Ann goes on to say that if a community can shift to a heavier reliance on local products a healthier overall environment will ensure an increase in local jobs, a stronger social fabric and a more diverse local economy. She finishes saying, “Monadnock Buy Local is an effective organization that continually reminds us of these benefits and shows us how to achieve these important goals.”

Jen remembers back to when she first started Monadnock Buy Local and the buy local movement was widely unknown. Now, she says, the movement has picked up pace and could even be called a national fad.

The buy local trend mostly began with food and local farmers in mind. Jen mentions Hannah Grimes Center’s Localvore Project that started in 2006 with the goal of weaving local farmers in to the community to create a thriving, local, agricultural economy. Now, with the Monadnock Buy Local project under way, the non-profit team is asking the community, “What’s next?” “We have a civic-minded community that recognizes the endless amount of work to be done to make this region sustainable and healthy. How can we use this to our advantage and collaborate to fill the gaps where people are frustrated or funds are lacking?” Jen asks this in a way that tells me she is still seeking the answer herself, and is looking to the community around her for solutions.

As Sales Manager at the new Monadnock Food Co-op, Jen sees a rising trend for shared-ownership and offers some ideas on how the co-op model could fit obvious needs in the community like transportation and healthcare. “We are community serving,” she says, “how can we serve in a way that is innovative, efficient, and fits effortlessly into our community’s ebb and flow of daily life?”

An example of Monadnock Buy Local’s recent innovative efforts includes the Monadnock Time Exchange, a cooperative network that connects and matches community members based on skill and need. For every hour an individual puts in to performing a task for another, they earn a time credit, which they in turn can use to receive work from another member. The Monadnock Buy Local Team has also started Plaid Friday, an event that takes place on Black Friday and has inspired hundreds of shoppers to participate annually. Plaid Friday encourages community members to support local vendors instead of “big box stores” when doing their Post-Thanksgiving or Black Friday shopping. With shoppers sporting plaid receiving special deals and discounts and local merchants receiving increased sales, everyone benefits.

This year, Monadnock Buy Local moving to the next level by hiring its first employees. Until now, the non-profit has been driven by the efforts of committed volunteers and some paid consultants. In order to grow, the board recognizes that the leap of hiring an executive director is essential. They hope that with this step Monadnock Buy Local will increase its community impact and the organizations own sustainability. “All these goals and amazing ideas are floating about,” Jen adds, “its time to roll up our sleeves and find ways to bring them to fruition.”

Monadnock Buy Local tracks trends in the buy local sector using social media such as Facebook and Twitter to follow and connect with other groups who have similar goals. In addition the organization works closely with the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, a group that provides a network of other buy local groups. This collaboration allows for increased efficiency for the buy local movement as a whole and provides motivation and ideas for this region to make change.

By spreading the news that buying local is the way to go, Monadnock Buy Local is slowly but surely enhancing an already thriving local business community. By supporting the nearby farmer or merchant and working with government to encourage policies supporting the small but promising entrepreneur, Monadnock Buy Local makes it possible for a diversity of businesses and programs to sprout up. If one falls short, another can pick up where it left off. This way reliance is put on many different craftsmen, farmers, and merchants who are skilled in their trade and oriented towards community growth.

The Monadnock Buy Local team looks toward the future of this region with excitement. With a little boost in the right direction, the Monadnock Region will not only be a community with trendsetting ideas and innovations, but a place rich in connection to the land and to one another with an eye towards a better future. Monadnock Buy Local is part of a new and exciting large-scale global movement that focuses on large change through small-scale, local action and collaboration.