October 10, 2010; Source: Helena Independent Record |The Habitat for Humanity in Helena, Mont. says it has lost two-thirds of its budget. Its staff is severely reduced and work on its most recent project, a four-plex, has ground to a halt with only three of the four units completed. The executive director, Melony Bruhn, says the problem is in their foundation funding that she says has been reduced by 90 percent—a problem considering foundation funding formerly comprised 65 percent of the budget. The organization has laid off some staff and reduced the time and salaries of remaining staff. Brian Magee of the Montana Nonprofit Association says that the situation that Habitat faces is not unique. “I would love to be in a position to say that the good news is that there’s some shifting going on and you can look to corporate or individual donations, but the picture is equally bleak for all of them,” he said. “There’s nowhere to go, unfortunately, and that is a sign of the times. That’s what’s happening here now, to a large degree.” Bruhn is still dug in for the long haul though, committed to the production of affordable housing in this picturesque town. “You have to be dedicated that your organization is going to survive, and we will,” she said. “I don’t care if we have to turn off the heat and I’m working out of my car. We’re going to make it.”—Ruth McCambridge
About The Author
Ruth is Editor in Chief of the Nonprofit Quarterly. Her background includes forty-five years of experience in nonprofits, primarily in organizations that mix grassroots community work with policy change. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Ruth spent a decade at the Boston Foundation, developing and implementing capacity building programs and advocating for grantmaking attention to constituent involvement.