Non-profits to suffer from change in economy

Tough economies are even tougher on the non-profits that provide needed services; as discussed in this week's Ponoka News column.

With the beginning of a new year, the time has come for all municipal governments to come up with their spending, and sometimes savings, priorities for the next 12 month period.

That includes several asks (aka funding requests) from all sorts of non-profit or charitable organizations in communities around the province hoping to meet their financial obligations and keep the doors open.

In light of the harsh economy that wound its way downhill during 2016, those asks have in a lot of cases jumped simply in order to maintain the status quo or worse, just keep the organization’s financial head above the water line.

Unfortunately, the economy has only rebounded about as well as a basketball without any air.

What that means for those organizations, and has been witnessed already in several communities, is they are receiving an extremely small increase in funding if they get any hike at all over 2016.

So, in fact, that translates into the groups having to trim their administration or other operational costs or else cut programming. Doing that usually winds up hurting the people those organizations are serving, which are almost always among the most at-risk, most vulnerable or most in need in our communities.

Now granted, you can’t blame municipalities for needing to be fiscally responsible with the little tax dollars they have to work with. They have to pay for emergency services, water and sewer, maintaining and clearing roads, providing recreation as well as trying to support community initiatives while attempting to not over-tax their own citizens.

So, in the absence of a property tax hike to increase that funding from government, how can regular citizens provide assistance to these very helpful and worthy organizations?

The first, and easiest, way is to give of your time.

Volunteering to perform a task, organize an event or provide some in-kind work the group usually has to pay someone to do will not only give you a warm feeling that you’ve done something good, but it will also help the organization by allowing them to put the money saved because you did that toward something else that is desperately needed.

Another way is by making a straight monetary contribution.

In this economy doing that is getting tougher and tougher, but for those that are able to, it’s a win-win for both sides.

The organization gets a much needed injection of cash to use in the best way it knows how and the individual or company gets the satisfaction of doing a good deed to go along with the (usually) tax-deductible donation benefit.

Lastly, people can help out in a few other ways through the occasional purchase of tickets for raffles, charity lotteries or various fundraisers; by providing donations of equipment, furniture or low-cost alternative services to assist; or, by advocating and lobbying all three levels of government to better support these community organizations so they can do what is needed.

In the end, all of these organizations will most likely provide the same or almost similar levels of service and programs as they have in the past despite the funding they will receive for this coming year.

However, just because you may not have the same amount of disposable income as you once did, doesn’t mean there isn’t something you can do to help out. And knowing most Albertans, you will make it happen.

But that is…just an observation.