April 7, 2011; Source: Dayton Daily News | How will nonprofits survive to keep needed community services and programs in the age of staggering state economies? The word we keep hearing is collaboration.

On any given day in Dayton, Ohio, people face a two-hour wait at the Department of Job and Family Services. Individuals needing cash assistance will grow from 4,929 in 2000 to an estimate of 6,800 this year. Contract awards that reached $8.8 million in 2000 will fall to $1.7 million by 2013.

Deborah Feldman, county administrator for Montgomery, Ohio, reported these statistics at an April 6 meeting of local nonprofit organizations trying to navigate through this new norm of government budget cuts. During brainstorming sessions, several executives, who had never met before that day, started to explore their options. Two small nonprofit organizations discussed pooling resources to share a development director. One director noted it was a “light-bulb moment.” Maybe collaboration is the answer.

The Dayton Foundation appears to think so. During the meeting, the foundation announced it had refunded the Nonprofit Alliances Support Program with an additional $30,000. NASP encourages community nonprofits to find more efficient ways to manage their organizations through alliances and partnerships. The Wesley Community Center has participated in the program for two years. Richard C. Walker, CEO, noted its support helped them through tough financial times. “Things have gotten better. We are moving past the crisis. Collaboration is a good step.”

The nonprofits gathered at the forum will continue meeting for the next four months to come up with an action plan that includes informing the community of current budgeting challenges, collaborating with agencies doing similar work, and reaching out to the business community for their expertise.

The group hopes this action plan for survival will help them navigate through this new reality.—Nancy Knoche