Nonprofits and the Federal Budget

This week’s national webinar The Federal Budget and Its Impact on the Nonprofit Sector made it really clear how much the nonprofit sector will be impacted by the 2012 budget that is currently being developed.  Donor’s Forum of South Florida hosted this webinar and brought in three well respected leaders who talked about the budget process and how it may impact the nonprofit sector. Presenting on this webinar was Kirk Fordham of the Everglades Foundation, Jim Horney of the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, and Steve Taylor of United Way Worldwide.

Some key takeaways from the webinar:

  • The $1 trillion dollars in discretionary funding that is currently being considered for the 2012 budget is $68 billion lower than what is needed to maintain funding at its current levels. Most non-security programs will be affected.
  • The budget process has not gone according to the traditional timeline: 1) No agreement on a budget resolution, 2) Appropriations are late, and 3) There is a debt ceiling crisis.
  • Cuts to social service programs are inevitable and there are short-term and long-term affects on agencies that expect to receive federal dollars.  Private funders and the United Ways around the country are not equipped to make up the difference when the federal dollars diminish.

What can funders and nonprofits do to hopefully impact the 2012 budget?  Become involved with advocacy efforts- communicate with local and state representatives letting them know how your organization and the organizations you support will be impacted when funding is cut. The presenters urged nonprofits to become engaged by entering the national budget conversations and providing information about impact.

While we don’t know the potential local impact from these expected cuts we do know this- nonprofits are not necessarily aware of how these cuts may impact them and they are not ready for them.  At The Rome Group event last week it was made clear that nonprofits are optimistic about the future and expect to maintain if not grow their current funding streams.  For organizations that currently receive federal funding that optimism is not in line with the information that is coming out of Washington.

There are a number of resources available online- local and national- to help you as a nonprofit become an advocate for your organization.  The nonprofit community needs to come together and collaborate to advocate for social services.

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