Thursday, October 3, 2013

What the Shutdown Means for Nonprofits

In wake of the current government shutdown, an important question arises: how are nonprofits affected by the shutdown and what can donors do to help? Many charitable groups rely on federal funding or federal grants, so a prolonged shutdown could have dire consequences for nonprofits.

When funding for federal programs that provide social services such as food stamps, housing vouchers, and veterans’ services stops or slows down, the people who are affected are forced to find alternative channels for support. This creates a higher demand for services, putting a larger strain on organizations that are already faced with less funding and staff support.

Meals on Wheels is one of the most prominent organizations affected by the shutdown. “We budget less than half a million dollars a year to run our entire organization which is for food costs, vans, staff, fuel and everything else. We get about $250k from the fed government so it’s more than half of our budget,” said Alison Foreman, the executive director of Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels. If this major source of funding is gone for an extended period of time, nonprofits face the tough decision of cutting expenses wherever they can: staffing, program services, or facilities.

So, the most important question then is, what can donors do to help nonprofits in this critical time of need with little to no federal support?

Donors can respond by recognizing organizations that are most affected by the government shutdown and attempt to help their local communities. One of the most significant areas that will be affected is food, either through lack of access or mobility to meals, food stamps or food scarcity. Donors can search for organizations that address hunger and meet Charities Review Council’s Accountability Standards here.

Nonprofits that work with housing needs will also be affected by the shutdown. Federal programs that address homelessness through housing vouchers and shelters may be severely cut down or reduced, and nonprofits that address these issues might be similarly affected. Donors can find organizations that address homelessness and meet our Accountability Standards here.

Allie Wilde is a junior at St. Catherine University and is a History and English double major. She just started in early September as the Engagement and Marketing Intern for the Charities Review Council. She is from and currently lives in Minneapolis. In her spare time, she likes to play, think, watch and talk about soccer.

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