Nonprofit Newswire | Funding Shell Game in Hawaii

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May 17, 2010; Source: Honolulu Advertiser | We’ve seen way too many reports around the country of the different ways local and state governments are taking “creative” steps to cope with diminishing funds to pay for services. In many cases, cuts are hurting nonprofits that provide these services, forcing them to seek funding from other private sources. In a decidedly odd twist, here’s yet one more example of a move by a local government to shore up its finances.

This time, though, those affected are banding together in opposition. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the mayor of Hawai’i wants to turn a county-supported band, operated as part of the parks and recreation department, into a private nonprofit corporation. If approved that will mean the formerly publicly-financed musical group will have to compete with other nonprofit groups to seek donations totaling about $300,000 a year.

Paul Arceo, the band’s director, says the idea of becoming a nonprofit is “not popular with me.” He added, “You take our $250,000 to $300,000 dollars a year out of the budget, that means we have to raise more than $20,000 a month. That’s a lot of money. I don’t think we’re going to be able to do it. That kind of money is just not available.”

Whether the money is available for the band from outside sources, versus county funding, may be a moot point. In a letter sent to the band last month, the county’s corporation counsel wrote: “If preparations are not made now for the incorporation of the band into a private entity capable of fundraising, there is a distinct possibility next fiscal year will find the band completely unfunded.”—Bruce Trachtenberg