Charities and non-profits still feel the pinch

Two years ago, an economic tsunami hit the world’s financial markets, sending everything — including B.C.’s non-profit sector — into a tailspin.The stock market crash of 2008 and the bailout of banks and multinational corporations shook the economic foundations of governments, and with so much money evaporating overnight, it was no surprise that charities and non-profits were among the first to feel the pinch.

The repercussions that followed were felt by the large and small alike, from the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation to the Sidney-based Raincoast Conservation Foundation, whose mandate is to protect the land, water and wildlife of coastal B.C.”We had been getting along on a budget of about $1.1 to $1.3 million but with the crash we went down to $700,000,” said executive director Chris Genovali.
“It’s been a real challenge for everyone but it is slowing coming back and we expect our budget next year to be north of $700,000,” he said.Ron Dumouchelle, president and CEO of VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation, said revenues from investments and donor contributions fell by 10 per cent in 2009, the first major decline in seven or eight years.”We found donors were deferring their donations or making donations of lesser amounts. We had to be patient because the donors had to recover from the downturn, as did we,” said Dumouchelle.”The good news is this year we’ll be up by 15 per cent and will raise about $36 million as both the smaller and major donors are coming back, which is fortunate because we have many important things that need to be funded in health care.”

A new study of the non-profit sector by the Vancouver Foundation, Canada’s largest community foundation, shows that while the storm is over, hundreds of charities are still struggling — especially those serving the arts and culture, environmental groups or small charities with budgets under $250,000.

A survey of non-profits and charities in B.C. taken this fall “painted a picture of a sector that is facing a high level of uncertainty and financial stress,” said the report.Vancouver Foundation communications vice-president Catherine Clement said the survey was a companion to one taken last year when the effects of the economic crisis were first felt.”We fund non-profits and last year we’d heard many of them saying they were not prepared for 2010 because of what had happened. We wanted to go back this year and see what had transpired and if they were in any better condition to meet their mandate [in 2011],” said Clement.

The survey found half of the respondents reported their revenues decreased this year — a slight improvement over 2009, when 53 per cent had decreased revenues.

Sixty-three per cent of arts and culture and environmental groups reported decreased revenue.
The average decrease was 18 per cent.

Charities and non-profits still feel the pinch  Dec.10 Vancouver Sun

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