Non-Profits Prepare for Increase Demand and Funding Cuts Next Year

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By March 2011, then Governor John Kasich will have to submit the state’s budget and that means closing up to an $8 billion budget hole. To close the gap, Kasich has pledged to reduce spending and with that comes cuts to state services. WOSU reports how some non-profit organizations are bracing for the cuts. Many state agencies are preparing for what’s been predicted as monumental funding cuts next year. Agencies that help the poor and people with disabilities are likely to see their state aid reduced. And people likely will turn elsewhere for help.

Non-profits like food banks and social service groups often are the first places people turn. And groups like the Mid-Ohio Food Bank and Goodwill Columbus are expecting to see an increase in demand.

The Mid-Ohio Food Bank gets about $2 million a year in state aid. Supply is already low because of the poor economy. President Matt Habash worries about keeping the shelves stocked.

“It’s maintaining the resources that they’re giving us for food, not for our operations or anything else. This is about you know a lot of food that people will need, particularly because we serve 20 counties, it isn’t just here in Central Ohio. Our primary focus is to make sure that level is maintained,” he said.

At a Columbus Metropolitan Club forum Wednesday, several non-profit leaders, including Habash, spoke of the challenges facing the non-profit sector especially in the down economy.

Habash said the food bank is trying to create more partnerships in an effort to increase its food supply.

“So we’re looking to see where are the sources nationally that we can capture food and bring that in. And again, when you can partner with the USDA, partner with the state of Ohio, partner with the private sector food industry and with the growers, that’s a whole major change for us – before long 25 percent of the food we’re going to handle is going to be fresh produce – and being able to get that into people’s hands,” Habash said.

Another non-profit that likely will see an increase in demand for its services next year – and possible funding cuts – is Goodwill Columbus. While much of Goodwill’s funding comes from donations and its businesses, it does receive a large portion of state funds for services for the mentally challenged and those with other disabilities.

President Marjory Pizzuti said Goodwill gets about $9.5 million for two housing programs: one for a facility for people with developmental disabilities and the other that helps keep adults with disabilities in their own homes.

She said she will continue to rally for those programs because overall they’re better than the alternative.

“It’s a much less expensive way to have individuals living in their own homes or apartments or group homes. That is far more cost effective and cost efficient than to have those individuals institutionalized or have very little or no option,” Pizzuti said.

With possible funding cuts in the back of her mind, Pizzuti said Goodwill plans to make sure the housing programs are using their money as efficiently as possible. And she added Goodwill is making efforts to expand its businesses like its retail store, auto auctions and janitorial services.

“If we can grow those businesses that will employ individuals with disabilities and other barriers and also generate the earned income to help support and subsidize those programs of ours that might be at risk,” Pizzuti said.

While no one knows for sure how deep the cuts will run or how far they will reach, non-profits are not waiting around to hear how bad is to do something..that is for certain.

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