Impact of the Longest Government Shutdown on Those Who are Grant Funded by Julie Assel, GPC

Today I woke up and read about how FBI offices are setting up food banks to help other staff who aren’t getting paid.  When times are bad, we depend on each other and nonprofit organizations for a safety net – food pantries, clothing closets, rent and utility assistance, medication assistance, nonprofit hospital emergency rooms, and the list goes on.

But the reality is, most truly sustainable nonprofits have some form of government funding. Why is that? Because like individuals with retirement accounts, nonprofits have been advised to have balanced income streams so if one income stream fails, they aren’t completely wiped out. But this means that while the government is down, not only do nonprofits have more people coming to their door, they are being affected by the shutdown with one of their revenue streams minimized or eliminated.

Nonprofits were hit hard by the recession, with some dipping into their reserves or even going out of business. The foundations who supported them had their core investment dollars hit by the stock market, businesses were laying off employees and putting less revenue into community investment, and individuals were just trying to pay their bills with less to give to others in need.  Now, the government has pulled back too. People who safe during the recession because they were government grant funded are now at risk, are being furloughed, or have just been let go. These are outreach workers, social workers, mental health providers, and health care workers.

There are plenty of articles that talk about federal government workers being furloughed, but who is talking with the nonprofits or local government workers? They will no longer have funding or support to provide to those in need – food stamps, rental assistance, public transportation, etc.  And just in case you are thinking it can’t happen to you, try tracing your paycheck, benefits, or activities you participate in back and see how far you go before you encounter some form of government support. And with three-quarters of full-time workers in the United States living paycheck to paycheck, what would happen to you if you lost your job and there were no nonprofits to support you?

GPC Competency 1: Knowledge of how to research, identify, and match funding resources to meet specific needs.  Skill 1: Identify major trends in public funding and public policy.