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Struggling nonprofits not in clear, but there is hope for the future
Written by Trista Steers MacVittie   
Friday, 16 March 2012 00:00

It’s no secret many businesses, organizations and individuals have yet to regain the financial health they once enjoyed prior to the recession.

Larson Newspapers Managing Editor Trista Steers MacVittie

The trickle-down effect starts as a droplet at the employment level and becomes a wave washing over nonprofits tasked with the mission of helping those in need.

Now that more are in need, while less money is funneled into organizations providing public welfare services, those groups teeter on the brink of collapse.

The tiny stilts holding up the foundation of our society as America scrambles to get back on its feet, nonprofits in Arizona aren’t in good shape.

However, the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits released a report Feb. 21 stating hope is alive, and the burden is slowly lifting.

According to the alliance, Arizona is home to approximately 21,000 nonprofits employing more than 150,000 people.

In the Verde Valley, nonprofit numbers are high with a list of community food banks, animal shelters, help for battered or abandoned women and children, senior centers and libraries, among others.

Those organizations and their employees work tirelessly, even when they themselves are hurting, to help those who need more than they do.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, according the alliance’s report, Borderline: Hope and Concern for Arizona Nonprofits.

The report cited four significant findings, which the alliance reports tell the story of where nonprofits are today.

n Revenue losses are stabilizing. Nonprofits saw a mean decrease in revenue of 16 percent in 2011. In 2010, the mean decrease in revenue was 18 percent and 22 percent in 2009.

n Nonprofit staff reports feeling slightly less strain than in past years.

n Demand for nonprofit services continues to grow, but less than 10 percent of nonprofits surveyed expect services to suffer as a result.

n Financial stability is still a question. According to the report, half of the nonprofits continue to use financial reserves to maintain levels of service, while a majority have less than four months of operating revenue.

Locally, our nonprofits also weathered the storm in 2009 and 2010 and are just now starting to see a turnaround in revenue streams. All the while demand has grown faster than ever before.

The good news — the trend is improving, and as the economy recovers fewer people will need services hopefully again balancing donations coming in with services going out.


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