The Sector on the Chopping Block?

With the continuing recession, states forced to slash budgets, and the federal government throwing in the towel in the battle against the “debt/deficit”, the nonprofit sector maybe coming up its strongest headwind yet.

Today the White House announced that the upcoming budget by the President will have considerable slashes (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/us/politics/06budget.html?_r=1) to Community Development Block Grants to save $300 million a year.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy announced that the top 50 charitable givers gave less last year than any year prior (since recording began in 2000) http://philanthropy.com/section/Philanthropy-50/370/

And last month the Republican Study Committee suggested cuts (http://rsc.jordan.house.gov/UploadedFiles/Spending_Reduction_Act–TWOPAGER.pdf) to pretty much every government agency that serves nonprofits  in the nation – PBS, CNCS, NEA, Hope IV, etc.

So that being said – is this the toughest time for nonprofits and the sector in history? Or recent memory? I think its definitely the hardest in recent memory. And normally I’m an optimist about these things. However, with such dire circumstances for so many people in the nation, and so few actually prospering (Wall Street) off the stagnated wages of the average worker – its hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Or at least anytime soon.

Here’s hoping cooler heads prevail and the sector survives to keep on fighting.

6 thoughts on “The Sector on the Chopping Block?

  1. Jessica Journey says:

    Hi, Nick!

    Yes, folks predicted that the nonprofit sector would FEEL the recession for a couple of years past all of the hype. And, yes, here we are, and here we wil be for awhile.

    My hope is that our nonprofits take this opportunity to have difficult conversations and make hard decisions. Tough times force organizations to focus on the essentials. I hope that the sector is actually better because of the economic downturn.

    Keep up the good work! Jessica

  2. nickdicolandrea says:

    Hey Jess!

    I don’t think the recession has rightfully hit the nonprofit sector yet. So I will have to disagree that “we will be here for a while”. I know that in Texas, they have stripped all funding to their largest dropout prevention program in the state, that effectively could kill services to 100,000+ at-risk kids. And this year’s budget cycle has all 50 states needing to make up $410 billion – you know a hammer is coming.

    And I can’t buy into “the essentials” argument either (not to be argumentative!). If nonprofits grow organically, correctly – they take on projects that fit their mission in new ways. And if a nonprofit was not focused on the essentials all the time, I would imagine they would go under before they got cut.

    Thanks for your thoughtful post! Its always nice to see friends!

  3. NickSava says:

    Nick,

    I think the nonprofit sector has exhibited a strong resiliency over centuries. Private donations and donors, in my humble and somewhat educated opinion, will always be there, for organizations and fundraisers savvy and communicative enough to find them. Like Jessica says though, organizations really have to look in the mirror and see where they need to focus. I know that my organization made some tough decisions a few years back right after the big crash, but we are better for it now, having finished in the black for two years running!

    One thing that does make me nervous, though, is the current political climate, and federal and state budget crises. I worked at a great nonprofit in the past that relied heavily on government funding for community job development initiatives for people with disabilities. To make a long story short, because of changes in state funding, the strength of the organization (its ability to place people in paid jobs in the community) was sacrificed and now the organization is placing groups of people in unpaid volunteer roles. Thus, independence for people with disabilities (both financially and socially) have been sacrificed.

  4. dad dicolandrea says:

    Nick
    i actually “do” see the light at the end of the tunnel, but i suspect its the “time to pay the piper train” coming at us full steam ahead.
    not for profits, the great lake -big headed asian carp, tranparent corporate donations… the house of reps has had its hands full this time around with the budget.
    in good times, it would be easy to take a side, but today… i feel for both sides of every argument.
    we need to spend… we cant afford to spend. we cant afford “not to spend”…
    if i thought i had the answer… i’d be a bigger fool than i know i am. not even history will be able to monday morning quarterback.
    you take the door on the left and never know if the door on the right was any better. there is only speculation.
    love ya son.

    • nickdicolandrea says:

      i’m very confused by this post. are you suggesting that nonprofits and social programs are not worth the funding and effort because private business investment and lower taxes are more important?

      nonprofits and social programs do not do feel good work. they do the work that the private sector deems “unworthy”. much like the people.

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