Whether you consider yourself a supporter of nonprofits or not, chances are you’ve interacted with a nonprofit. Maybe you were a Cub Scout, maybe you were a Big or a Little in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization or maybe you keep your money in a credit union. “You can hardly spend a day without being touched by a nonprofit,” said President and CEO of the Michigan Nonprofit Association Kyle Caldwell as he sat in his office in the newly renovated Marshall Street Armory in Lansing. “There are literally a million stories in each community.” With 48,000 nonprofits in the state of Michigan, it’s no wonder that there are so many stories. It’s Caldwell’s job to share those stories so that nonprofits statewide can continue to grow and flourish. A graduate of Western Michigan University (WMU), Caldwell said he discovered the nonprofit sector after receiving his master’s degree. That was in the early 1990s and he hasn’t looked back since. He has been with MNA, which was incorporated in 1990, for three years. “We’re the core of the nonprofit sector,” said Caldwell. “We represent organizations that are doing great things.” Out of the 48,000 nonprofits in the state, 800 are members of the MNA. Most of those members are C-3 charities. Being a member of the MNA gains nonprofits access to resource-sharing when it comes to insurance programs, conference call services and more. Caldwell is also a supporter of nonprofits sharing space and was instrumental in gathering the eight nonprofits who now share space in the Armory building. Caldwell works daily to support his staff of 30 so nonprofits can succeed. He said he likes to think of himself as the chief storyteller. And it’s not all personal stories. Caldwell’s job is to explain the value of nonprofits to a community. “It’s work that’s driven by values,” he said, adding that nonprofits act as the conscious for communities. In addition one out of every 10 employees in Michigan is employed by a nonprofit, and it was the only growing sector during the recession. Nonprofits, because they are usually working with limited budgets, are also a resourceful group. “It’s where innovation happens,” said Caldwell. For Caldwell the value in what the MNA offers is endless. “(There is) a constant need for educating people about what the sector is doing,” he said. For more visit www.mnaonline.org.
Emily Caswell is the Managing Editor of CAWLM. She has a passion for fun, family, friends, shopping sprees, cold drinks and Lansing.