Trend Watch: Drastic Actions—Nonprofits Facing Facts

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November 2, 2010; Source: WXII12.com | NPQ has noticed that we are beginning to see many more news reports about nonprofits either suspending their activities or closing. All of the stories listed in this newswire have surfaced in the last few days, along with the senior center article listed separately today. Also see yesterday’s story about the Vermont-based educational program. We can only speculate that the length and depth of the recession has eroded the assets and current funding streams of these programs and that as the year ends, boards are beginning to try to come to terms with their prospects.

In some cases the actions appear a bit unusual as in the above story from North Carolina where the board laid off the current director along with two other employees for budgetary reasons but kept other staff to maintain the program.

In Delaware, the 100-year-old Milton Theater is in the process of proving that it has many lives, temporarily shuttering its building which is scheduled for foreclosure. The organization revived the theater in 2003, having been closed for 41 years after the Broadkill River overflowed in 1962. For now the theater is biding its time, hoping by the end of the year to repurchase the building for cash which it is raising in a pledge drive.

In Roanoke a 25-year-old daycare center abruptly closed its doors when the board realized it had unpaid debts and only $3,000 in the bank. The center had been recently evicted from the building it had been in for 25 years when the site was demolished.

And in South Bend, Ind. the United Religious community of St. Joseph County temporarily closed two advocacy centers that provide people in need with emergency help with bills. They did not have the money to operate although there is still money to pay the bills. URC is planning to take a few weeks to regroup and is asking the community for their thoughts and contributions.

In Maine, Freedom Riders, a 26-year-old therapeutic riding program is closing because it does not feel that it can maintain its own standards on the revenue that it is now able to raise. It plans to dissolve completely.

NPQ knows that there are sometimes other underlying problems in situations like these but we believe, although we can not yet prove it, that the number of programs taking this kind of drastic action will increase for a while as the year ends and the real long term toll of the recession is fully felt.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Jean Holsten

    We are wrestling with a similar situation and wondering how we are going to weather the terrible economic climate in Sacramento CA. Funds have been drying up and yet we see more and more people in need. People who tell us our Center is saving their lives, giving them a reason to live and keeping them from getting into trouble with alcohol, other drugs, crime and the like. It is so hard.

  • Jill Fixler

    Now is the time for nonprofit organizations to get smart, get innovative, and be strategic and intentional in utilizing and engaging volunteers. We have to get out of the staff dependent model and think about creative ways to engage skilled volunteers in our work. Not only will they help us move from a scarcity model to one of abundance they will parlay their profound circles of influence on the organizations behalf.