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City, United Way to Distribute Stimulus Funds For Homeless
Sept 1, 2009; Inside Indiana Business | In our efforts to keep an eye on nonprofits delivering on their use of stimulus funds, we note more than a couple of efforts where local government jurisdictions are turning to nonprofits not just to deliver the services, but to help government allocate the moneys. In Arlington TX, recommendations for the allocation of $876,208 in funding to serve the homeless were made not just by the City Council, but by a United Way-Arlington grant review committee. The City of Indianapolis is partnering with the United Way to distribute $5.8 million in homeless funding connected to the stimulus. The notion of turning to local intermediaries to help municipalities make funding allocations appears to be good in that it taps nonprofit entities experienced presumably in conducting due diligence reviews and evaluating proposals. But if this is done because governments are self-eviscerating their staff capacities due to unwarranted tax and budget cuts, the message is one of giving with one hand (the stimulus) and taking away with the other (local budget shortfalls). In Indianapolis, the mayor was elected on a platform of capping property taxes which has led to massive and continuing budget and program cuts throughout the city. Even now, long after this mayor took office, reports of cuts and layoffs still hit the press on a regular basis, such as an 8% proposed cut in the parks and recreation budget, plus budget cuts and school closings in the school system, just to name two. The 2009 version of the Prop 13 tax-cap activists are motivated by anti-government feelings as much as they are by concerns about the property tax burden. When the stimulus funding runs out, and it will, will these people return to reality, or will they eviscerate government’s capacity to function and keep turning to nonprofit intermediaries to fill in (probably without compensation) the gaps in state and local capacity? —Rick Cohen

Fighting for good: Nonprofits have publicly sparred as resale shop proposal progressed
Sept 2, 2009; The Keller News |
Thrift store high noon: Texas is providing a lot of good fodder for the NPQ Newswire this week. Today it is a story about a showdown between two competing thrift store sponsors. There are a lot of interesting things about this story including exclusionary zoning issues and the back story on thrift stores which, from what we hear anecdotally, are thriving in the current environment. But of course, most salaciously interesting is the public display being made by these two local warring charities – a kind of David and Goliath tale but more petty… —Ruth McCambridge

Farthest North Girl Scout Council fights for independence
Sept 2, 2009; | Ahem…about the mergers. For many observers it is a knee jerk reaction, “too many nonprofits…we need mergers!” but this story from farthest north Alaska is about a girl scout council that has opted out of a proposed merger of the three major Girl Scout councils in Alaska. This discussion was part of the national council’s attempt to, for budgetary and programmatic reasons, consolidate their many local affiliates on a state or regional basis. Lissette Rodriguez, wrote a Fall 2007 NPQ article “Girl Scouts: Uncharted Territory” documenting the early stages of this strategy. What is interesting here is the reason cited for opting out. The Farthest North Girl Scouts say, not only are they in good shape in terms of their board and budget but that the problems being experienced by those who have merged in the “lower 48” suggest that the national strategy may not have panned out so well but we will find out more and get back to you. —Ruth McCambridge


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