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Nonprofits wait to learn depth of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake's planned spending cuts

Chesapeake Energy Corp. intends to reduce its charitable giving, but Oklahoma City area nonprofit organizations still do not know what that will mean for them.
BY JAY F. MARKS jmarks@opubco.com Published: January 9, 2013

Rodney Bivens, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, also is confident Chesapeake will continue to support the community.

“While we can certainly understand and appreciate when any corporation has to make difficult decisions about cutting back on their charitable gifts, we know Chesapeake and its employees will continue their commitment to communities and people,” Bivens said. “It's not always just about the dollars — their employees are regular volunteers and advocates for the food bank, and you can't put a price tag on that.”

Bivens said Chesapeake has contributed billboard space that allowed the food bank to promote holiday giving, including the company's pledge to match up to $1 million in donations.

“We anticipate continuing our long-standing relationship with Chesapeake and appreciate the many ways they assist the RFBO and other nonprofits,” he said.

Marnie Taylor, CEO of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits, said the uncertainty surrounding Chesapeake's future giving should not be a major concern to the organizations that receive contributions from the company.

She said the center teaches nonprofits to seek diverse funding sources, without becoming too reliant on one company or government agency. That means always being prepared for a source of donations to dry up.

“We should never take any of them for granted,” Taylor said.

Taylor said she hopes local nonprofits will be able to survive Chesapeake's plan to cut donations without having to eliminate staff or services.

CONTRIBUTING: Paul Monies, Business Writer