Clay nonprofits earn $130 million a year without focusing on sports, recreation


ORANGE PARK – No other sector of nonprofits in Clay County is larger than sports and recreation, according to the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida.

Nonprofit leaders in the county gathered for a State of the Sector 2019 report at the Holiday Inn and Suites of Orange Park last Friday that revealed the largest sector of nonprofits in the area and more surprising information about 501(c)3s. Nonprofits in Clay County employ 2,125, but only seven work in the sports and recreation sector.

“The sports and recreation nonprofits are the largest in Clay County by almost 3%,” NCNF’s Rena Coughlin said. “They only employ seven people though so we know they use a lot of volunteer service.”

Coughlin spent nearly two hours breaking down the State of the Sector 2019 report which revealed insight into how nonprofits have been changing over the last few years. These reports are released every few years. The last report was released in 2015, so this conference gave local nonprofits a look at what’s different.

There are 8,027 nonprofits on the First Coast, which is made up of Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and St. Johns County and of those, Clay is home to 742.

“That’s a lot and you might be wondering why,” Coughlin said. “It’s like when people open another restaurant and you ask yourself, ‘why would someone do that? That’s such a hard thing to do.’ Well, like those people, those that start nonprofits are incredibly passionate about what they do and about the community. That’s why you see numbers like this.”

Nonprofit numbers in Clay are high, but they’ve actually tapered off over the last few years. The number of nonprofits in Clay saw steady growth from 1998 to 2008 but since then, the numbers have leveled off with a decline around the last recession. The organizations made $130 million in the last measurable year while the First Coast as a whole made $8.56 billion.

The majority of nonprofits in Clay make less than $500,000 a year, Coughlin said. Only 4% make more than $10 million; 15% make more than $1 million but less than $10 million; and, 8% make between $500,000 and $1 million.

The top-three nonprofits in terms of revenue according to the report are First Coast Workforce Development, which is a statewide organization that doesn’t have much of a service impact in Clay, Penney Retirement Community and Moosehaven.

The top-three nonprofits in terms of employers though are Challenge Enterprises of North Florida, which employs 444, Penney Retirement Community, which employs 275 and St. Johns Country Day, which employs 234.

The majority of employers in Clay hire employees in the general health and elderly human services sector.

It’s easy to assume nonprofits rely a lot on the government for funding but Coughlin said 31.5% of nonprofits on the First Coast earn 50% or higher of their revenue.

“I think government bodies over-estimate how much they contribute to nonprofits,” Coughlin said. “They help a lot but many organizations bring in the majority of their money themselves.

“Overall though, these last few years have been great for nonprofits. Clay County is a great place for a nonprofit to call home.”


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