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Home > Research Articles > Different non-profits have different hopes for 2003

theindependent.com

Monday, January 06, 2003

Whether offering help, education or salvation, non-profits agree 2002 was a tough year

Independent/Scott Kingsley

Community Humanitarian Resource Center house manager Timmi Standlea, left, talks with Carrie Reichard at the CHRC's shelter. The CHRC is one of area non-profit agencies that is optimistic about fund-raising in 2003.

By Mike Bockoven

mbockoven@theindependent.com

Timmi Standlea and a woman who preferred to be identified only as Lupe have a lot in common.

They both have seen hard times in their lives.

They both live at the Community Humanitarian Resource Center's shelter house. And the both believe the shelter is not only important for them, but for the community to have.

"This place saved my life," Standlea, who was once a resident but is now a house manager at the shelter, said. "It's a thing where people need help sometimes. This is a good place for people to get help."

Whether it's help, enlightenment, education or salvation, members of nonprofit organizations across the region pretty much agree that 2002 was a tough year economically.

Simply put, when the economy suffers, so do nonprofit organizations.

"We didn't have as tough a year as I thought we would, but I thought it would be really tough," Jane Mitchell, coordinator of the Literacy Council in Grand Island, said. "I don't have a good base for saying the economy effects us, but I know it does. We have a lot of people who help us on a regular basis and when they're going through hard times, guess what? So are we."

That being said, a number of nonprofit were able to make strides in 2002 despite the weakened economy, and those who weren't able to are largely looking forward to a possible upswing in 2003.

The optimism is largely uncertain, however.

Karen Rathke, executive director of the Heartland United Way, said their campaign was going to reach a little over 90 percent of their $1,002,003 goal.

Bright spots in 2002, however, are what Rathke expects to be a bright spot in 2003 -- individual contributions of time and money.

"I really feel that individual donors held strong in 2002," she said. "People have seen friends who aren't working or they have seen their expenses go higher themselves. There are more individuals stepping up to help people out, and that's encouraging to see."

Volunteer time, she said, has also been holding steady if not increasing this year among the agencies of the United Way, something that will also bode well in 2003.

Father Tom Ryan, who headed up a campaign in 2002 to help build St. Mary's Cathedral Square, which is currently under construction, said 2002 found his group raising funds in an economically hostile environment. It was the dedication of those dedicated to the project, however, that allowed things to move forward.

Ryan said in 2003 the group will have to raise around $400,000 to complete their building project.

"One of the things we've always been told about fund-raising is once people can see a building going up, their enthusiasm goes up with it," Ryan said. "We've found that to be true, so we're looking forward to completing our campaign in 2003."

For some nonprofits, the question wasn't one of how fund-raising went, but how much was done and what their needs were. John Amick with the Hall County Historical Society, said with one exception their fund-raising efforts in 2002 went very well.

They'll just need to do more in 2003 to pay for the Plum Street Station renovation project.

"We've had a very good response, but we just need to do more fund-raising," he said. "We're kind of getting our feet on the ground and the amount of revenue we'll need to generate is becoming clear. It's a new year for us because we've never been through this before."

One looming concern for several nonprofits is the balance between what they can raise locally and what they get from local, state and federal governments.

Rathke said she's seen a few nonprofits within the United Way suffer because of state and federal budget cuts that have left them out in the cold.

Cindi Preisendorf, executive director of the Community Humanitarian Resource Center, said their group is partially funded by the state, and while they have yet to be effected, they watch state governments very closely.

"I know a lot of our funding comes through the state, and to be honest with you, that's a big worry for us," she said. "The state has just been cutting and cutting and cutting so it's hard to know where we'll land in 2003. We're hoping for the best."

Preisendorf isn't the only one. Lupe and Standlea said that without the shelter at CHRC, or many of the other nonprofits in the area, it would be difficult for those who hurting in one way or another to find relief.

"I would have had to move away from my family to a place where there were more services to help," she said. "I didn't want to do that. I'm very glad this place was here. It's helped more than I can tell you."