Gloomy Rural Prospects for Increased Government and Foundation Funding

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August 30, 2011; Source: Nevada Appeal | On a day that organized philanthropy trumpets the success of foundation support for rural nonprofits in the Chronicle of Philanthropy(in contrast to NPQ’s own reporting on the subject hereand here and here), the Nevada Appealpublished an op-ed by Janice R. Ayres, president of Nevada Senior Corps Association and executive director & CEO of the Nevada Rural Counties RSVP Program, suggesting securing funding is tough for rural nonprofits whether it’s coming from government or philanthropy.

Ayres warns of likely cuts from Washington in rural funding as the budget negotiations continue with additional rounds of discretionary spending rollbacks likely. She adds that on top of cuts that rural areas are already receiving, they are losing out on state grants that she says “favor urban areas.”

On philanthropy, Ayres doesn’t seem to buy the good news about rural philanthropy promoted by the Council on Foundations. She says that “barely 1 percent of the $46 billion given in 2009” by foundations went to rural charities, and “grants to programs that aid the elderly to remain in their homes are almost non-existent.”

“In short,” Ayres concludes, “there isn’t very much support for rural charitable non-profits at the federal, state and local levels, foundations or corporations.”

To make her point, Ayres goes through the demographics of some of Nevada’s rural counties to describe the particular problems of seniors in rural areas, observing that “the rural county seniors are the least funded and yet poverty there is at its highest.” But she got a dismissive reaction from one Nevada legislator when she shared her figures. The lawmaker responded, “Well, let them move to Vegas or Reno.”

As Ayres makes clear, it is not simply a funding imbalance. Rural areas are fighting against long-held predispositions against rural areas as desired, and desirable, recipients of government and foundation dollars.—Rick Cohen