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Oklahoma nonprofits fear funding losses

Local nonprofits fear efforts to reduce government spending could result in decreased funding and reduced services — right when people need them the most.
by Ken Raymond Published: January 20, 2013
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But deductions are only half the problem. The other is possible cuts in federal funding of nonprofits.

Some agencies realized quickly that funding cuts could come as a result of the 2008 economic downturn and began cutting costs and seeking alternative cash streams.

“We anticipated revenue reductions some time ago and began … (in) November 2011 when we reduced our operating expenses $197,093 by eliminating some positions and not filling others,” Bitsche said in an email. “We also rebid and reduced costs of banking services, janitorial, document imaging, office supplies and cellphones. In addition, we also canceled memberships in professional organizations.”

Sunbeam made “deliberate efforts to increase funding from private sources — individuals, businesses and corporations,” he wrote.

Those efforts have been successful. In fiscal year 2009, Sunbeam generated nearly $111,000 from those sources. The totals have grown in each successive year; fiscal year 2012 brought in nearly $318,000. The nonprofit's strategic plan calls for an expansion of marketing and development activities and a 22 percent annual increase in private funding though 2015.

“The bottom line is this,” Bitsche wrote. “A nonprofit that doesn't think like a ‘for profit' probably isn't going to make it.”

Taylor's group, which provides training and resources to other nonprofits, has been advising its members to remind legislators of the important services nonprofits provide — services that are often more cost effective than the alternatives.

Sunbeam, for example, has a program to help keep seniors in their homes. The program pays active seniors a small stipend to visit low-income seniors, providing friendship, helping out and giving caregivers time to run errands and enjoy short breaks. The annual cost per client is about $1,400, a pittance compared to the $40,000 a year it would cost Medicaid if those clients were put in nursing homes.

Taylor hopes nonprofits will fight to keep such programs alive.

“Be proactive during this time of quiet,” she said. “Send a letter. Make a phone call, whatever your means of communication might be. But let them (legislators) know we aren't willing to take any more trims or cuts.”

by Ken Raymond
Book Editor
Ken Raymond is the book editor. He joined The Oklahoman in 1999. He has won dozens of state, regional and national writing awards. Three times he has been named the state's "overall best" writer by the Society of Professional Journalists. In...
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