AerospaceHuman ResourcesArchitectureInnovationBanking & FinanceNonprofitsConstructionReal EstateEconomy RetailEducationSales & MarketingEnergyTechnologyGovernmentTransportationHealth Care
Long known for the good they do in the community and beyond, metro charities and nonprofits are now being forced to quantify exactly how much good they actually do. As donations across the board dwindle, local charities now find themselves competing against each for the remaining scraps of a dwindling financial pie.
Long known for the good they do in the community and beyond, metro charities and nonprofits are now being forced to quantify exactly how much good they actually do.
As donations across the board dwindle, local charities now find themselves competing against each for the remaining scraps of a dwindling financial pie.
"Competition for the donor dollar is pretty stout," says Kyle Campbell, communications director for the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma. "They're all worthy. It's extremely competitive ... and we all have extremely limited budgets. You're dealing with the same variables across the board."
This summer, the Giving USA Foundation released a report that noted charitable giving had decreased by the largest percentage in five decades. Two-thirds of public charities receiving donations saw decreases in 2008.
"With the United States mired in a recession throughout 2008, there was no doubt in anyone's mind that charitable giving would be down," says Del Martin, chair of Giving USA Foundation, in the report. "However, what we find remarkable is that individuals, corporations and foundations still provided more than $307 billion to causes they support, despite the economic conditions. It would have been easy to say 'not this year' when appeals came their way, and we definitely did see belt-tightening. This drop in giving meant that nonprofits have had to do more with less over the past year, but it could have been a lot worse."
With the economy uncertain, local need-based charities have fared best.
"Surprisingly, we're pretty steady," says Heide Brandes, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma City Command of the Salvation Army.
In 2007, the Salvation Army received $2.6 million in direct and indirect contributions. In 2008, she says that number moved to $2.8 million, and this year, the group has already surpassed the $2.9 million mark, with months left in its fiscal year.
But the slight bump in giving was met with a vastly increased need for services. For 2008, the most recent numbers available, the number of people served moved from 119,000 in 2007 to 125,977. That number should be even higher for 2009, she says.
"We're starting to see people in demographics we've never seen before," says Brandes, who notes her organization runs two shelters in the metro. "We're seeing people who had very good jobs, and then one or both breadwinners gets laid off, and all of the sudden, it becomes a struggle to keep food on the table and keep their homes. We have a lot of families who have had their homes foreclosed on, and now they're living in a shelter."
She attributes how well-known the Salvation Army is in the community to the level of giving the organization receives.
Those in charge of raising funds unanimously agreed that competition was strong among nonprofits, and a greater emphasis would be placed on improving upcoming capital campaigns.
"It's definitely slowed our donations quite a bit, especially our corporate donors," Campbell says.
He characterized last March's capital campaign - known as "Heroes" - as "slight." Planning sessions are ongoing regarding ramping up next March's effort.
"It's a complete better game plan," Campbell says. "It's inspiration and learning our case statement better so we can speak with a clearer voice to the donor. We have one of the most recognized brands in the world - second to the Olympics - which is pretty fantastic. But you sit down and talk to individuals, and there are very few people who actually know the work of the Red Cross behind that brand."
The Red Cross responds to more than 300 house fires in the metro each year, as well as large-scene disasters from tornadoes down to police standoffs. CPR courses and babysitting classes are offered, as well as blood donation drives that serve to fund other Red Cross programs.
"Our role is to prepare the community for all the different emergencies that are kind of out there," Campbell says.
He says the Red Cross is boosting its operating budget in the metro from $2.2 million in 2009 to $2.9 in FY 2010 due to need.
The old saying is that when America's economy sneezes, the whole world catches a cold. Well, if charities focused on meeting the needs of locals have a head cold, then international charities such as Melanie Macdonald's have a full-on case of the flu. She serves as president and CEO of the Oklahoma City-based international charity World Neighbors, which focuses on need in poverty-stricken region in 18 countries abroad. It caught the bug earlier this year, and Macdonald says the organization's budget has been decimated.
Massive staff layoffs - nearly half of the group's 180 total employees - occurred earlier this year as its 2009 budget of $8.5 million turned into an anticipated $5.8 million for 2010.
"We've had a really dramatic drop over the last 10 months," she says. "The impact on World Neighbors would be unprecedented in my over 30 years in the not-for-profit environment. I've never seen anything quite like this. It's been a very difficult year for us."