The more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the United States received an estimated $427 billion in charitable donations and corporate grants in 2018. Needless to say, this massive influx of money necessitates careful financial planning. And while financing a business can be complex enough, nonprofits face several additional challenges due to their unique roles in the community. Luckily, Tucson nonprofits have several opportunities for help, on both local and national levels. 

For many Tucson nonprofits, financial assistance begins not at a bank, but at a foundation. Since 1980, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona has served as a hub for all things local and nonprofit. 

The Community Foundation, serving five Arizona counties including Pima, has given more than $175 million to community nonprofits since its founding. Much of this funding is organized via professional advisors, with which the foundation partners to streamline the process between philanthropists and nonprofits. 

“The Community Foundation for Southern Arizona established the Nonprofit Loan Fund of Tucson and Southern Arizona, which is now Growth Partners Arizona, to help address the cashflow issues faced by many nonprofits in our community – especially those with seasonal markets like arts organizations and schools,” said CFSA President and CEO Clint Mabie.

When a nonprofit chooses a banking provider, one of the first decisions is choosing between a bank and a credit union. While both offer financial guidance, they each have unique advantages. 

“Credit unions in general are unique because we’re not-for-profit,” said Jennifer​ Overpeck, vice president of marketing for Pima Federal Credit Union. “So when our customers do well, we also do well.”

Pima Federal Credit Union was founded by a group of teachers in 1951, and in the more than half-century since, has developed a local network of financing options both for individuals and nonprofit organizations. 

“Primarily one of the struggles nonprofits deal with is proving their income,” Overpeck said. “They don’t want to have to deal with fees or minimum balances, which is why Pima Federal offers them free checking account, and there are two simple qualifications to receive dividends. If you don’t meet both qualifiers in a given month, you simply don’t receive a dividend that month, however the account remains free, no catch.” 

According to Overpeck, another one of the main nonprofit struggles is keeping a consistent log of their staff. Because nonprofits work so closely with volunteers, a quickly changing staff can make paperwork difficult. To help with this, Pima Federal Credit Union offers nonprofits Account Change Cards to easily manage their affiliated staff. 

Whereas larger banks often mail debit cards, Pima Federal Credit Union offers instant issue debit cards. According to Overpeck, a same day account and debit card allows nonprofits more flexible funding and scheduling. 

“For the most part, we like to keep things smart, simple and personal,” Overpeck said. “We don’t like to complicate things. And I think it’s that flexibility and that personal element that nonprofits might not get from working with bigger chains.” 

Pima Federal Credit Union also supports the nonprofit community with their PimaShares program, which is a community giving application the public can fill out to quickly connect to nonprofits. Through PimaShares, Pima Federal Credit Union can more easily give nonprofits the donations, volunteers, and financial literacy training they need. Beyond financial literacy training, Pima Federal also directly supports local nonprofits with an annual golf tournament. 

The Pima Federal Golf Classic raised $50,000 for the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, Southern AZ Law Enforcement Foundation and Literacy Connects in 2019. They have also raised funds for Tucson Values Teachers. In total, Pima Federal supported 83 local organizations in 2018 via sponsorships, funding and donations. 

“We were founded by teachers, so we always want to support education,” Overpeck said. 

 But local nonprofits needn’t only receive support from local organizations. This June, Bank of America announced $186,000 in grants to 22 Tucson nonprofits. The grants were intended to focus on workforce development and education, and to combat Tucson’s poverty level. The supported nonprofits include Interfaith Community Services, Tucson Center for Women and Children, Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona, Community Food Bank Inc., YMCA of Southern Arizona and the Tucson Jewish Community Center.

“So many of us are just one life event away from needing to depend on basic needs services such as food banks or shelters, while others remain under-employed lacking the evolving job skills necessary to be part of today’s strong economy,” said Adriana Kong Romero, Tucson market president for Bank of America, in a press release. “But through strategic philanthropic investments into Tucson’s incredible nonprofit network addressing needs such as hunger relief, shelter and career access, Bank of America can deploy its capital to advance more economic opportunities in the region.”

Bank of America’s own Charitable Foundation offers nonprofit grant funding, sponsorships, volunteer opportunities, and a ‘Matching Gifts’ program that encourages employees to contribute to charitable organizations with the bank matching funds. 

Bank of America isn’t the only national chain supporting local nonprofits. Washington Federal operates 12 branches throughout Southern Arizona, and serves nonprofits in more ways than banking. Washington Federal offers nonprofits financial literacy to support their banking needs, but also offers volunteers via the Washington Federal Foundation. 

In 2018, the Washington Federal Foundation invested more than 13,000 volunteer hours on 1,400 nonprofit organizations and initiatives. Their foundation’s purpose is to “facilitate direct giving to community-based nonprofits” and does so by financing community developments, expanding financial literacy, volunteering and offering grants to charitable organizations. On average, Washington Federal’s Southern Arizona team volunteers 450 to 500 collective hours each year.

“We look at ways to see how we can be of service to nonprofits on a personal level and as a financial institution,” said Kim Dees, Southern Arizona Division Manager for Washington Federal. “We look at them independently, at the full picture of what their needs are. We’re not just going to give them a business checking account and that’s it.” 

According Dees, one of the main struggles nonprofits face is the ability to grow their organization. This is why timeline planning and volunteer support are so critical for their growth.

Dees says Washington Federal’s work with the Pima County Community Land Trust is a good example of banking/nonprofit relationships. PCCLT is a nonprofit that works with public grants and private donations to develop a “permanent supply of affordable housing for future generations.” The Washington Federal Foundation has granted more than $20,000 to PCCLT, on top of volunteering for and financing their housing projects. 

“If a local nonprofit would like to come in and talk to our bankers, we’d be happy to discuss their financial needs,” Dees said. “It’s an opportunity to show them what Washington Federal is about and who we are.” 

Washington Federal is currently in their third year partnering with Youth On Their Own, a local nonprofit dedicated to supporting homeless youth toward high school graduation. Youth On Their Own accdonations and drop offs of supplies, and during this last year, multiple Washington Federal branches even served as drop off locations for the nonprofit.  

“They’re working hard to serve the community,” Dees said. “And we work to serve them.”


Editor's Note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Pima Federal Credit Union is a not-for-profit, not a nonprofit; there are two qualifiers to the credit union's free checking account and that the Golf Classic raised money for the Greater Tucson Fire Foundation, Southern AZ Law Enforcement Foundation, and Literacy Connects in 2019, not Tucson Values Teachers.

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