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Wall Street woes touch nonprofits

Posted October 1, 2008
Updated October 17, 2011

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— Nonprofit administrators across the Triangle are watching the plunging stock market with worry, as the tightening economy hits nonprofits with fewer donations and more demands.

To talk about ways to deal with the tough times, Urban Ministries held a special meeting of its board members Wednesday evening.

“We like to say our food has a very short shelf-life,” said Anne Burke, executive director of Urban Ministries of Wake County.

Urban Ministries runs an open-door clinic and food pantry. Hard financial times has led to tough choices for the organization that is built on giving.

“We used to give families two full weeks' worth of groceries. Now, we're back to a week to 10 days, to stretch it out a bit further,” Burke said.

Burke says her major concern is money to keep the facility operating. She says the clinic gets about 100 calls a day from people who have lost their jobs and health care.

Even the doctors who volunteer their time at Urban Ministries are cutting back, Burke says.

“If he's having to work more hours and see more patients, he or she is not available to come down here to volunteer,” Burke said.

Burke says Urban Ministries depends a lot on the faith-based community, but even churches are cutting back. The nonprofit recently received a letter from a church that was a regular contributor.

“They sent us a letter saying, 'We’re going to have to stop contributing'" until their members give more money into the church because the church is not meeting its own budget, Burke said.

Urban Ministries is not the only nonprofit looking closely at budgets and staffing. Other charities, like the Salvation Army, are trying to figure out where the money to provide the next warm meal will come from.

“The last thing we want to do is not feed the people who need it, or not house the women and children who need shelter, or not give financial assistance,” said Paige Bagwell, director of operations and communications for the Wake County Salvation Army.

Bagwell says donations are down at the same time that the demand for services is up. The shelter's food line has doubled to about 150 people a day over the last year or so. The waiting list for women and children needing shelter has also jumped from the usual 25 to around 80 families.

“We need a good Christmas,” Bagwell said.

For the Salvation Army, Christmas is an important fundraising season, with programs like the bell-ringing kettle collection, Coats for the Children Telethon and toy drives.

Like many charities, the Salvation Army is hoping this Christmas, more than ever, really is a season of giving.

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  • hallmark Oct 2, 2008

    I am appalled that some folks have assumed that the people who need the services of Urban Ministries and like organizations are living beyond their means and that they are trying to get a "free ride". Have these folks that are sitting so high on their "Judgement" horse ever volunteered at one of these organizations to actually see who the core users are? I would guess not!!! If they did, they would know that a good number of folks that utilize services are employed but because their employer pays low wages and does not provide basic health care insurance, they can't make it in today's economy. They were barely scraping by before the price of everything (especially necessities like food, gas, medicine, electricity, etc.) skyrocketed. Instead of sitting in judgement of folks based on your mostly incorrect and biased assumptions, you should take a look at yourself in the mirror and ask why in a country of "excess" do we have folks legitimately working 40 hours a week living in poverty

  • angora2 Oct 2, 2008

    john283594, I work for a non-profit and get asked the same question. "If you are non-profit, why are you making money?" Stupidity abounds out there!

  • angora2 Oct 2, 2008

    MamaBearNC, right you are! I once volunteered in a food pantry for people who had just qualified for food stamps but needed a sack of groceries to get them through the week. They were distraught, embarrassed, having suffered back-to-back calamities. One woman's husband had died of cancer, leaving her with three little mouths to feed. She was then laid off from her job. One man had been a construction worker but had been hit by a car, breaking both of his legs. So much for a salary in these cases!

  • john283594 Oct 2, 2008

    What part of non-profit don't they get? Don't turn a profit, go out of business, who cares?

    This has to be one of the dumbest statements ever posted on GOLO...Do you even no what non-profit means and why they are important to our society?

    My guess is you were just joking...

  • jointheir Oct 2, 2008

    well I guess this is why the Lord told me NO DEBT in ministry. If I do not give you the money DO NOT DO IT!
    You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me."
    But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.
    Deut 8:17-18
    It is not man who supplies - it is HE! If you are a "faith-based" org - use your faith! heb 11:1

  • angora2 Oct 2, 2008

    "What part of non-profit don't they get? Don't turn a profit, go out of business, who cares?"

    You need to read up on the literal meaning of the term, "non-profit." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-profit_organization

  • MamaBearNC Oct 2, 2008

    You don't know what it is like until you actually have to go through a catastrophe that puts you into the situation of being homeless. It could be anyone. It could happen to anyone. Sure there are the bad eggs out there but there are also the people with a genuine need! The woman who decided to leave her alcoholic husband in order to protect her 6 kids from abuse. The person who finally got that scholarship to college and quite her job only to discover she is pregnant and her husband just got layed off and they don't have money to pay rent and drive to college. You think you have your life planned out then something happens....these are real experiences of mine...yes I was homeless but not anymore because of good matured people that helped us get on our feet again. So before you start criticizing look at the possibilities and the uncertainties that can happen in your lives.

  • meh2 Oct 2, 2008

    What part of non-profit don't they get? Don't turn a profit, go out of business, who cares?

  • Unbroken Oct 2, 2008

    I am loving all of the tough rhetoric on here. My guess is that some of you spouting off are also those who go to church on Sundays as well, and call yourself "Christians." How about listening for once during the services/sermons... you might learn something.

  • jgirl5830 Oct 2, 2008

    I love how at the end of the article Christmas was mentioned, forget Christmas! You're saying you don't have enough to give people to eat and now you're worrying about Christmas? No need to worry these people will find other charities that will give them Christmas, they always do.

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