NPOs concerned about economic downturn

LAKE PLACID As the United States slides toward a possible recession, individuals are starting to feel the pinch of the credit crunch which may effect non-profit organizations. Cali Brooks, director of Adirondack Community Trust, said the effect of the credit crunch was currently unclear. The first quarter of the year tends to be slow for charities, since many people give during the end-of-year holidays. Brooks said institutions that have developed relationships with their funders and have demonstrated mission-impact on their communities will be in good standing. Nonprofits with a diversified funding base will weather this time better that those that do not. At this point, it is unclear what impact state budget cuts will have on local charitable institutions that receive a bulk of their operating dollars from the government. I see this as an opportunity for all charitable organizations to shine. An economic downturn is when charities are needed most by all community members direct clients and people who care about our region. It is also a time to show how effective and collaborative nonprofits can be in meeting their respective missions, said Brooks. JCEO Development Director Amy L. Kretser said the recent economic downturn is not predicted to result in less support for JCEO than in previous years. She said the community saw JCEOs services as valuable, diverse, and necessary and this was reflected by over 40 years of commitment. It would not be surprising to see renewed respect and support for the work JCEO does to ameliorate the negative effects of poverty in the North Country, said Kretser. Some organizations have already seen a significant decline in funding, like the North Country Association for the Visually Impaired. We are asking more and receiving less, said NCAVI Executive Director Donna M. Abair. We feel that our organization is not thought of to be as particularly heart-wrenching as others who might fair better in this difficult economic time when people are giving to charitable organizations less and less or being more selective. Abair explained her organization dealt with all age groups, but does focus more on older Americans who are blind and legally blind. The services are free and with contributions down, it becomes more difficult to continue to provide these services. Other organizations havent seen an impact yet, like the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Wild Center Membership Manager Susan Arnold said memberships were keeping up the pace with many people upgrading their renewal memberships. I've been really surprised. We are working on the comparison from 2007-2008, but don't have percentages yet. I do know the total income to date this year for membership has exceeded last years total at this time, said Arnold. Some organizations, like ComLinks of Malone, which is a community action program, were adopting a wait and see attitude toward the economic slump. ComLinks is not planning any major fund raising events in the near future. Were putting our efforts on hold with the changes that are going on in the state and federal government, said Simone McConville of ComLinks, Inc. One of ACTs roles is to build nonprofit leadership and capacity. Brooks said ACT would be hosting a seminar to help NPOs deal with the economic downturn. On May 1, ACT will present Re-Engineering Community Capacity, which will outline the possibilities of nonprofits sharing services, developing an alternative legal arrangement with another nonprofit or merging. Re-engineering is a serious solution to the serious issues facing today's nonprofits. We encourage every community volunteer to come learn about the options, the benefits, risks and processes of re-engineering, said Brooks.

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