Nearly a month ago, the Dow Jones broke 13,000 for the first time since the banking crisis. That apparent good news aside, it’s been a tough economic slog for everyone in the private and public sector—and we’re not out of the slump yet, nonprofit charities included. As Rick Cohen of Nonprofit Quarterly recently wrote, “The devastating cuts that state budgets endured during the past couple of years won’t be undone by the economy’s small uptick occurring now…. These are structural problems in state budgets, not simply momentary nadirs caused by a devastating economic plunge.” Agreed.
These past years, nonprofit charities have been needed more than ever, at a time when their own resources have been spread thin. (Not prepared to read more about nonprofit economic woes? Don't click here.) A scarcity of state and federal dollars means increased competition for these funds.
Still, the statistics I've read (and cited in last fall's eCivis newsletter article, Local Nonprofits and the Need for Core Support) show that nonprofit organizations have looked to grant makers for grants that permit financial flexibility during these times of economic uncertainty, generally preferring operating support (“unrestricted” funding for the day-to-day operating costs of a program or organization) over program support (“restricted” funding for specific activities, with a beginning and an end and clear objectives). Funders, on the other hand, have favored program support in part because there is apparently clearer accountability. In short, there has been a tension between nonprofits’ need for unrestricted operating support and funders’ desire to support specific programs whose outcomes are ostensibly more easily measured.
Does any of this ring true for your organization? Are there more complex pieces to the puzzle? If so, what are they? What have been your nonprofit’s major obstacles in grant seeking? How has the sluggish economy changed, if at all, the way you approach grant makers? Has the apparent uptick in the economy (collective fingers crossed) affected your outlook and plans for 2012?
Tell us your concerns, lend us your stories—and share them here! If you'd like to learn more about how eCivis Grants Professional Services (GPS) can help your organization write and/or review your grant application, visit our GPS page.
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