An irony of Our Times

One would be hard pressed to argue that these are difficult economic times. Record numbers of people are unemployed while costs of necessities like food and fuel continue to increase.  The “have’s” are morphing into the “have nots” as my sister lamented recently, “It is expensive just to live.”

Our country has relied upon the compassion and effectiveness of social service nonprofits to help our communities get through difficult times. Food banks feed the hungry. Shelters provide warms beds for the homeless. Rape crisis centers provide support to victims of sexual violence.  Job training programs help individuals become self-sufficient.

Sadly, many of the very organizations that have served as safety nets in our communities are now struggling to keep their doors open. For years, nonprofits have experienced level funding. This means that despite an increased cost of living, nonprofits have been asked to continue providing the same level and quality of services without an increased revenue. While this trend continues, a new trend is emerging: Funding cuts, particularly at the state and local levels, is evaporating.  Consider the irony: At a time when more of our friends and neighbors are in need of help, the nonprofit organizations designed to be of service are at a decreased capacity to do so.

As I begin to plan for the next fiscal year, I will join my colleagues in evaluating the benefits of strategic alliances. I will explore every cost saving measure possible. And I will ensure, as far as I am able, that my organization remains available to help those in need.

This is the work of the nonprofit manager. Serving the community. Empowering individuals. And motivating staff to do more with less. And more with less. And then, even more with less.

Robyn-Jay Bage, M.P.A.

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