by Richard Ober, President and CEO, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation
A 25-year veteran nonprofit leader told me recently that kids are showing up at his after-school program with unprecedented problems.
The kids are coming, he said, “with a volume and complexity of baggage that we have never seen before.” They don’t have enough to eat. They are dealing with families suffering from mental illness and addiction. Some are dogged by pressure to join gangs. The kids, he said, are almost shell-shocked by it all. And so are the courageous community leaders trying to help them.
Nonprofit leaders have more complex problems to try to solve (or, at least, salve) and fewer resources with which to solve them.
I talked with more than 100 of New Hampshire’s most committed and hardworking nonprofit leaders in eight cities and towns recently. What I heard – from Peterborough to Berlin – is that demand for services is up. Federal and state funding are down. Nonprofits are being asked to do more than ever with less than ever. The problems they are addressing are increasingly multi-layered and complex.
On this Giving Tuesday – and every day – New Hampshire’s nonprofits need our help.
Nonprofits in New Hampshire, of course, do everything – they mentor our kids, and protect victims of domestic violence and provide treatment to people with mental illness and care for our elders. They are on the front lines of the state’s drug crisis. They provide the cultural and artistic opportunities that draw folks to our communities and make them want to stay. They steward New Hampshire’s magnificent natural resources. Every one of us benefits from their efforts every day.
Nonprofits are a huge part of what makes New Hampshire a great place to live.
And it takes thousands of acts of generosity, small and large, to keep them going.
Americans are, on the whole, terrifically generous. Giving USA estimates that Americans gave $358 billion to charity last year, and giving is up nationwide. An impressive 72 percent comes from individuals – the rest from foundations and businesses.
Giving is an extension of our hopes for our communities, and for the world.
The nonprofits working to make New Hampshire communities better need us all to dig as deeply as we can. What helps most? Annual contributions for operating support – funds that can be used where and when they are most critically needed. The Foundation has responded to that need as well, increasing funding for operational support by 47 percent since 2011.
Running a nonprofit that provides critical services – food, shelter, clothing, literacy, mental health – is the opposite of running most businesses: More customers do not usually mean more revenue. In fact, the opposite is often true. The same economic pressures that compel more of our neighbors to seek assistance are also stressing public budgets and increasing demand for charitable giving. Many nonprofits now compete with public agencies – police, fire, and schools come to mind – as they raise funds to make up for municipal and state budget cuts.
To be clear: I do not advocate for private charity to fund services that are the responsibility of government. But nor can we ignore the fact that nonprofits need us all to step up.
We all benefit from the work of nonprofit organizations – whether we receive services directly or simply enjoy living in communities that are stronger, and safer, and healthier, and more vibrant because of them.
On this Giving Tuesday, please give generously to these organizations that are making New Hampshire better for all of us.
Source: NH Charitable Foundation