A report released Monday morning by the NC Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center said grants to non-profit organizations for services such as community and economic development, post-secondary financial aid, environmental preservation and assistance with food and shelter plummeted more than 25 percent from fiscal year 2008-09 to fiscal year 2009-10.
State grants to non-profits dropped by more than 25 percent in fiscal year 2009-10, a decrease that is about 10 times larger than the drop in the total state budget in the same year.
Total grants to non-profits from state and federal sources grew in fiscal year 2008-09 due to supplementary funds from the federal Recovery Act, but total grants from state and federal sources declined by 20 percent in fiscal year 2009-10 and are expected to drop further as Recovery Act assistance tapers off in 2011.
“Support for non-profit organizations in North Carolina is dropping drastically,” said Edwin McLenaghan, the BTC public policy analyst who authored the report. “With the Great Recession continuing to increase the need for the services non-profits provide, this is increasing the burden on struggling families and communities.”
The decline in state grants to non-profits coincides with decreasing financial support from private donors and an increase in the need for services driven by job losses and cutbacks in government-provided services.
Besides providing direct services, non-profits also employ hundreds of thousands. Non-profits in North Carolina account for roughly 400,000 jobs in the state, almost one-tenth of the states’ workforce, officials said.
With the budget cuts, nearly half of non-profits in North Carolina reported reducing their number of employees in 2009.
“Continuing to cut back on state funding for non-profits in North Carolina not only threatens the quantity of services non-profits provide,” McLenaghan wrote in the report, “it also threatens jobs at a time when nearly one in 10 North Carolinians remains out of work.”
United Way of Richmond County serves as an umbrella agency to non-profit organizations that work in a specialized way with people to guide them through difficult situations and to help those who qualify find the resources they lack.
United Way’s Executive Director Michelle Parrish said although United Way is not directly impacted by budget cuts, she sees how it’s hurt some people of Richmond County.
“The pantries empty faster than they used to,” she said. She sees the need for food drives to alleviate people of their most pressing needs.
She said most people that call for help are directed to the Salvation Army or DSS. She has seen that one of the biggest needs are assistance with utilities such as electric or water bills, help with mortgages and rent. Though it varies throughout the month as people prioritize their funds, she recognizes a trend where people come into a ‘crunch time’ and begin to ask for help.
“There comes that time in the month where the elderly might have to choose between keeping their lights on or buying their medication,” said Parrish.
People seeking assistance must pass through an evaluation process to see if they qualify for help, but once they do, they turn to the non-profit organizations that officials say will see more cuts to come.
People struggling with chemical addictions may be referred to the Samaritan Colony in Rockingham on U.S. 220. The Samaritan Colony is a chemical addiction rehabilitation center for men, and has 12 beds which men can occupy for 28 days while they complete a comprehensive, educational and therapeutic program.
“We keep them on a busy schedule while they’re here,” said Harold Pearson, executive director of the colony. He said they have been lucky with funding. He’s been with the group for 29 years.
“We got big expenses out of the way in the past few years,” said Pearson. He explained that in the past few years they got a new roof, new paint, and new heating and AC units, so they feel prepared for now.
“This year is awesome so far. We’ve been staying afloat,” Pearson said. “We continue to be blessed, but it’s a bit tighter now.” He said their board hasn’t had trouble with funding yet, but dread the coming cuts of the next year, and are practicing being fiscally responsible.
“We’re keeping a closer watch on money,” Pearson said.
Staff Writer Dawn Kurry can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.