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June 25, 2013;Washington Post

Budget writers for Delaware’s state legislature have approved $44.7 million in grants to nonprofit organizations, community groups, and volunteer fire companies.

The spending plan, approved by the Joint Finance Committee, is $1.7 million higher than the $43 million recommended by the governor in January, according to the Washington Post. The bill includes funding for emergency medical services, paramedic program operations and volunteer fire companies, along with millions for services that are performed by a variety of community-based non-profits in the state. That includes $8 million for senior centers and adults with physical disabilities, $5.1 million for neighborhood and community services, $3.8 million for family and youth services, and $1.5 million for arts, historical, cultural and tourism programs.

The appropriations demonstrate how extensively community services, often those the general public assumes are performed by government agencies, are outsourced to private nonprofits with deep ties to their local communities. In that way, Delaware is no different than virtually all the other U.S. states, which routinely use non-profits to perform critical public services.

In California, for example, the Employment Development Department outsources job training and counseling services to Worksource Centers that are operated by non-profit agencies. And the federal government’s Small Business Administration funds hundreds of private nonprofit small business assistance centers across the country every year.

It’s a big part of the reason that about one-third of the funding for America’s nonprofits comes from government sources. In some service areas, such as health care and education, that number is much higher. For that reason, it is imperative for the nonprofit sector to remain engaged in the public policy—and funding—debates that so significantly impact it.—Larry Kaplan