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Impact of the Economy on Local Non-Profits

The recent downturn in the economy is big news across the country. But how is it affecting our local non-profit organizations? Organizations like the Salvation Army and the Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling are seeing an increase in the number of people that they serve while donations are on the decrease. Combine that with increases in food prices and additional delivery fees, and some non-profits serving the basic needs of people in our area will really feel the pinch this winter. Non-profit agencies are being forced to do more for less to continue to serve the community’s needs.
“West Virginia is ranked last in the nation in median household income,” said Donna Gompers, Regional Resource Development Director of the Salvation Army. “You can imagine how the rapidly rising cost of fuel, food, clothing and other necessities are showing effects on our middle income families. Now with this most recent economic downturn and the uncertainty of our country’s economic future, we will see even more of our neighbors in need of assistance this year.”

“The Salvation Army relies so much on the private sector to assist us in our efforts to help those in need, it will take a few more months to realize the true impact our stressed economy will have on charitable giving,” added Gompers. “I have found that West Virginians and especially this community are very generous people. However, we may find even those who have been so generous in the past will be in need of our help in the future. It will become even more important for all of us to adapt, and give more of our time and talent in the absence of treasures, adopting a neighbor helping neighbor attitude.”

Many non-profit organizations are fortunate enough to have endowment funds to assist with overhead costs associated with running an efficient organization. However, endowed funds are usually restricted to paying out income only or a conservative percentage based on the endowment fund’s performance over the past several years. In such cases, endowment funds may be providing fewer dollars to these non-profits, making it even more difficult to make ends meet. The good news is that gifts to an endowment fund will add to the value of the fund and produce more income for the agency. Anyone can make a tax-deductible contribution to an agency’s endowment, regardless of who established the endowment fund.