I’m Bret Bicoy of the Door County Community Foundation with a guest commentary for DoorCountyDailyNews.com.
There are more than 350 non-profit organizations based in Door County. If 350 sounds like a lot that’s because it is. It’s far more than you would expect in a community of our size.
At the Door County Community Foundation we’ve long argued that our charities are the major economic engine that attracts tourists and seasonal residents to Door County each year. Our arts organizations provide the cultural atmosphere that people love and our environmental charities are the stewards and guardians of our natural treasures. These charities are essential to our economic well-being.
Yet some still argue that Door County can’t afford to support 350 non-profit organizations. But the data just doesn’t justify that conclusion.
Door County is the second wealthiest county in Wisconsin. Our average household net worth is about 60% higher than the state average.
Further, at a time nationally when charities are struggling, an informal survey of Door County organizations last December showed our small non-profits are holding their own and our large charities are actually thriving.
You can also think about this from a logical perspective. If Door County couldn’t afford the charities it has, presumably they’d be going out of business at an alarming rate. But in the last four years, I can think of only one significant charity to close. Yet off the top of my head I can name dozens and dozens of restaurants and retail shops that went out of business during that same time.
Having 350 non-profit organizations isn’t a negative thing. It’s a blessing. Virtually every one of them was created by a group of caring volunteers who want to make Door County a better place.
Charity is America at its best. We don’t wait for politicians to solve our problems. Average citizens gather together to accomplish great things – often through a charitable organization.
I love that we have so many charities in Door County. It inspires us to give back and is a testament to how passionately we want to sustain this community we love.