Since I am most comfortable discussing the financial state of small business in American and the difficulties they are having across the board, I decided to look into the state of small and medium sized non-profit agencies. I wanted to see if charitable giving is down significantly and what that means to the least fortunate in our society.
However, when I started doing a little digging I was stunned to find that the world is facing a global starvation crisis, directly linked to the skyrocketing cost of food, especially rice, wheat. Global fuel prices have tracked those in the
According to the non-government organization, Oxfam, nearly 900 million worldwide face starvation. In the past 15 months, the price of rice has risen 74%, the price of wheat has risen 130%.
To make matters worse, developed countries have reneged on some of their commitments to provide aid to the rest of the world. Simply put, those countries felt they had their own problems at home and couldn’t spend the cash helping out less fortunate countries including most countries in Africa, many countries in Central America, and many countries in
Here at home non profit agencies that serve the less fortunate are having tough times raising money too. According to a leading publication for non-profit agencies, The NonProfit News, agencies have had to resort to reducing services and laying off staff. Both large and small non-profits have been affected, with the American Lung Association laying off 15% of its headquarters staff in November. Susan G. Komen for the Cure is cutting its staff by 16%. In Austin Texas, the National Domestic Violence Hotline had to layoff 11 workers despite call volume increasing by 21%. The list goes on from large national foundations that have seen substantial losses in their sizable endowments, to small non-profit community service organizations that provide local services.
Meals on Wheels a program to provide shut in elderly hot meals several times a week has been particularly hard hit, both by the price of food and the price of fuel. Hundreds of Meals on Wheels chapters operates throughout the U.S. Nearly all rely on volunteers to deliver much needed hot meals to the elderly. Many chapters have been forced to provide only one hot meal a week instead of three (the other two are delivered frozen) and decrease the quality of the food being served.
Large corporate giving is down and small businesses don’t have extra cash to give to charities. Individuals are still giving, but at a rate lower than the charities are used to.
Since we are coming upon the holiday giving season, I would like to challenge readers to give some of their time, if they can’t give both time and money. Most communities have numerous non-profit charities that welcome volunteers with open arms. I have personally decided to spend 16 hours volunteering my time to several local groups this season and I will continue my 5 year tradition of donating during the Christmas holidays, when it is needed most.
Can you do the same?
Sam Thacker is a partner in Austin Texas based Business Finance Solutions.
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