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The Nonprofit QuarterlyMany local United Ways struggle to make goals as campaigns end
Nov 22, 2009; Savannah Morning News | In a story being repeated around the country, the recession is seriously affecting the campaign goals of many United Ways. For instance, the Douglas County United Way in Lawrence, Kansas finds itself, as its campaign ends, $800,000 short of its 2009 $1.8 million campaign goal. While contributions are expected to filter in, this could be a serious blow to the approximately 25 nonprofit agencies in this small historic town. In Savannah, Georgia, the United Way elected to extend their campaign when the campaign fell short by $400,000. Results are not yet in for United Way in well heeled Orange County, but its campaigns have seen steady declines over the past three years descending from $29.3 million to $23.1 million in 2008. This year, following the 2008 campaign, the organization reduced staff from 58 to 32. The CEO chipped in, reducing her salary significantly from $256 K to $251 K. Read here for a longer article about local United Way performance against goals as 2009 campaigns end.—Ruth McCambridge

The Nonprofit Quarterly Nonprofits could benefit from direct government hiring
Nov 23, 2009; Huffington Post |
Some of us oldtimers in the nonprofit sector with backgrounds in government remember hiring “CETA workers”, temporary workers hired directly by government or through government funds. CETA stands for the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, a program from the 1970s that had a positive effect in terms of reducing unemployment. Facing problems of persistent unemployment and underemployment despite evidence of an economic recovery, the White House is looking for programs that could knock a percentage point off of jobless rates. Modern political culture might not tolerate a direct government-funded employment program like CETA, with roots going back to the New Deal employment programs of the Roosevelt Administration. More than likely, a new CETA would actually end up providing government subsidies to businesses for portions of employee wages. But nonprofits could be beneficiaries, with government money hiring people who really need jobs instead of the recent dynamic of hiring stipended volunteers without regard to their economic or job needs. Nonprofit advocacy organizations such as the National Council of La Raza and the NAACP are pushing for a response to the job crisis with openness to a CETA-like public works program. Wouldn’t it be nice to see our nation’s response to the jobless recovery result in employment for people who actually need the jobs and with products and programs that look like some of the best of the WPA?Rick Cohen

The Nonprofit QuarterlyArts organizations hit hard in Iowa
Nov 23, 2009; | Iowa’s arts organizations are not immune to feeling the effects of the economic downturn. Michael Kaiseris, President of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. met with arts leaders in Des Moines last week on a project called “Arts in Crisis.” Kaiseris and staff are traveling to all 50 states plus Puerto Rico to assess and advise arts groups during these tough times. In addition to the economic crisis, Iowa was hit especially hard in 2008 with floods and tornadoes. Responding to the one-two punch Cyndi Peterson, director of Iowa’s Department of Cultural Affairs remains optimistic. She describes Iowa’s arts community as part of a “creative class,” who will be able to come up with solutions to hard times.—Kristin Barrali

The Nonprofit QuarterlyJournalists of color train to track stimulus money
Nov 21, 2009; Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder | In Congress, members of the Congressional Black Caucus just let President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, among others, have an earful. They say that the communities they represent are lagging behind in benefits from the economic recovery and the federally funded stimulus program, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At the same time, according to a survey in August and September by New American Media, 84 percent of African-Americans, 67 percent of Latinos and Native Americans, and 62 percent of Asian Americans think the stimulus package has been good for their families and communities. Are the members of the CBC seeing things that their constituents aren’t? Armed with a grant from the Open Society Institute, one of the foundation arms of financier George Soros, the San Francisco-based NAM has picked 13 reporters working for ethnic media outlets as recipients of its 2009 Stimulus Watch Fellowship for Ethnic Media Journalists. These Stimulus Fellows received an intensive two-day training program in Washington earlier this month to expand their stimulus tracking and reporting skills.  A fellow working for Black Voice in Riverside, California, described the goals of her stimulus reporting as “finding out who decides where the money goes and who gets it.” That’s exactly what all media, not just the ethnic media, should be doing with the stimulus. The $751 billion stimulus package and the much larger stimulus that went to the financial and automotive industry as the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) need the sunshine of investigative reporting, else the economic recovery will be measured only in inches of rehashed press releases.—Rick Cohen



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