June 5, 2010; Source: Statesville Record & Landmark | The stories about nonprofits facing budget cuts due to state, county, and municipal revenue shortfalls appear just about daily. Here at NPQ, we run several of them, not because we want to rub people’s noses in the continuing financial crisis of the nonprofit sector, nor from a “there but for the grace of God go I” perspective. Rather, we frequently write about the small nonprofits whose trials and tribulations over a few thousand dollars here and there are wrenching—and they are all but invisible to most of the nation’s foundation grantmakers entranced by size and scalability.
In Iredell County, North Carolina, the county commissioners have recommended cuts and terminations in funding to a number of organizations, not big dollars, but enough to really hurt. A county information and referral service that connects residents to crisis lines and support groups will not receive any of the $29,000 it had requested, accounting for 30 percent of the organization’s budget. In the typical ethos of small town nonprofits, the agency’s executive director said that the county commissioners have been “great supporters for the past 18 years,” but the organization might have to suspend operations or close entirely.
The county arts council will not receive a few thousand it had requested either, which means less support for local arts programs in these Piedmont area small towns. Arts councils and information and referral hotlines don’t get a lot of attention in the worlds of philanthropy and social innovation, but in small towns like Statesville and Mooresville, for example—places some funders couldn’t find with Mapquest and a GPS together—they are valued and important providers of services that keep these small communities alive and functioning.—Rick Cohen