The Smoky Mountain region is rich in hospitality. We welcome millions of visitors into our hometowns annually, and we entertain them at our attractions, restaurants, and overnight accommodations. Local businesses aim to provide our guests with stellar products and services with the intent of making a profit. We also have a plethora of nonprofit organizations in the Smoky Mountains that provide hospitable services of a different type. The relationship between nonprofits and small businesses is integral to the vitality of our community.

We are looking at how our nonprofit organizations affect local businesses, and we’re discussing why it’s important for owners and managers to support these groups.

Nonprofit Organizations in the Smoky Mountains Make a Difference

Dolly Parton is from Sevierville, just beneath the Smoky Mountains. Her generosity improves the quality of life for residents, and local nonprofit groups in the Smoky Mountains make Sevier County a great place to live.

Friends of the Smokies is a well-known local organization that has raised over $75 million in the last thirty years. Through various events and donations, the group uses the money to help the Great Smoky Mountains National Park preserve and protect our area’s largest attraction. Simultaneously, the park lures millions of visitors to our area annually. This influx allows us to grow our businesses, pay our team members, and thrive as a community. That’s just one example of how nonprofit organizations in the Smoky Mountains can impact local businesses.

Other area nonprofit groups like Heartland Services and SMARM (Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministries) aim to assist our residents in need. In turn, residents are lifted during times of struggle, and their quality of life improves. Recipients of these services work in local businesses and welcome our tourists. It’s a cyclical relationship that allows our community and the tourism industry to thrive.

United Way of Sevier County Applauds Small Businesses

United Way of Sevier County works with 18 local nonprofit organizations in the Smoky Mountains.

Sevier County’s symbiotic relationship between nonprofit groups and small businesses is unique in that our tourism industry fuels much of the local community’s activism. Director of the United Way of Sevier County Amy Harper applauds small business owners for stepping up and supporting these groups.

“We have a lot of visitors, but actually this is a small community,” Harper said. “It’s our small businesses that make a difference. We reach out to owners often and they step up to the plate.”

Harper has served as director of our local United Way for over ten years and the agency credits small businesses for its success. This past year, United Way of Sevier County distributed $400,000 to the eighteen nonprofit groups that partner with the organization. These funds come from individual donations as well as the exciting lineup of special events that Harper and her team host annually.

The events include Dancing with the Stars, Night at the Derby, Arrowmont’s Souper Bowl, and The Melting Pot Gatlinburg’s Fondue and Winefest. These events are fun to attend and make a big impact on our community. Attending these events and supporting the United Way’s mission with sponsorships and donations are enjoyable and effective ways for local business owners to give back.

“If it weren’t for small businesses supporting us, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Harper explained.

Ways to Support Nonprofit Organizations in Sevier County

Plan a Special Event or Promotion to Benefit Nonprofit Groups

Many local businesses run promotions or plan special events that include raising items and funds for local nonprofit organizations. If your business is interested in partnering with a charity for a special event or promotion, choose an organization and contact the director to get started. Doing so is an excellent way to boost business and improve our community.

Shop at Thrift Stores and Donate to Nonprofit Organizations in the Smoky Mountains

Sevier County Food Ministries, SMARM, and other nonprofit groups operate thrift stores in Sevierville. These stores raise money to further their missions. Local businesses can help by:

  • Donating items such as overstock or unused inventory 
  • Donating materials during renovations 
  • Shopping and encouraging staff to shop in the thrift stores 
  • Volunteering at the stores

See a list of these thrift stores here. Additionally, many organizations depend on donated items to use during daily operations. SafeSpace has a list of needs posted to its website, and Sevier County Humane Society has shared an Amazon Wishlist.

Get Involved and Volunteer with Nonprofit Groups

One way owners and managers from local businesses can help is to encourage their team members to get involved. In the workplace, offer staff the option of paid time off for volunteering. Similarly, plan a fun day of team building and volunteering together with a nonprofit group. Many organizations have volunteer opportunities and signup forms posted online like Mountain Hope Good Shepherd’s volunteer page.

When local organizations have fundraisers and events, plan an outing for your team. Display event posters at your business to inform customers and share the information via social media.

Support one of the Nonprofit Organizations in the Smoky Mountains

If you wish to support a local nonprofit group but don’t know where to start, contact the director to learn more about their needs. Our nonprofit organizations in the Smoky Mountains depend on the support of small business owners, managers, and team members. Getting involved, planning special events and offers, and attending events are affordable ways to grow your business. This is a win-win for the entire community!

The team at Kellum Creek Business Solutions would like to thank the people behind our local organizations for their tireless efforts in making Sevier County a great place to live and work. For more insight into local business, the Smoky Mountain tourism industry, and our fantastic community, sign up for our free quarterly newsletter and follow us on social media.

Authored in Appalachia || Amy Morton