Nonprofits nervous about proposed budget cuts

0
1330

President Donald Trump’s proposed 2018 federal budget includes cuts that would greatly affect Colorado Springs nonprofits — even those that do not receive federal funding.

Leaders of local nonprofits are nervous about potential cuts to their budgets, and how that would affect not only the clients they serve but also their employees.

According to the National Council of Nonprofits, the Trump budget includes huge 10-year cuts to Medicaid [$610 billion, $4.7 trillion proposed spending], the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program [$193 billion, with much of the food stamps program taken over by states], and the  Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program [$21.6 billion of about $165 billion]. Also on the line are Health and Human Services block grants for social and community services, along with Housing and Urban Development community development block grants.

Pikes Peak United Way has 28 funded partner agencies, and 19 responded to a recent survey revealing they get nearly $60 million in federal funding. Much more than that could be lost locally if federal cuts are approved, said SherryLynn Boyles, executive director of TESSA, a United Way partner that  receives federal funds to aid victims of domestic violence.

“I speculate it would probably be in the hundreds of millions of dollars locally,” Boyles said. “We have hundreds and hundreds of nonprofits in our region. What has been proposed are very draconian cuts and it’s very scary.”

If cuts occur, that would put more pressure on nonprofits to attract even more local donations — and that would have a trickle-down effect.

“We do not get funding from the federal government, but it will affect our partner agencies, which does affect us in the long run,” said Pikes Peak United Way President and CEO Cindy Aubrey.

Noreen Landis-Tyson is president and CEO of Community Partnership for Child Development, which operates the Head Start, Early Head Start and Colorado Preschool Program serving about 1,800 students in the region. Of CPCD’s planned 2018 budget of $19.5 million, 62 percent is scheduled to come from the federal government.

“Head Start is the foundational funding that allows our organization to keep its doors open,” Landis-Tyson said in an email. “If we received significant cuts in the Head Start and Early Head Start grants, we would need to lay off teachers, education assistants, family advocates, nurses, behavioral health consultants and administrators as most of our base funding comes from those two grants.”

UNITED WAY PANEL

Landis-Tyson and Boyles were part of a panel discussion about proposed budget cuts, along with Urban Peak’s Shawna Kemppainen and Partners in Housing’s Mary Stegner, hosted by United Way Sept. 21 at The Pinery at the Hill.

“We have 350 employees, so we’re a big employer in Colorado Springs,” Landis-Tyson said during the discussion. “Think about the economic impact that would have if we lose funding and people lose jobs.”

TESSA would likely shut down its rural services in El Paso and Teller counties if federal cuts occur, Boyles said.

“Pretty much every single one of our programs would face severe cuts,” she said. “It’s daunting to think about that. And it would put a lot more pressure on our police departments, the courthouse and hospitals. When you cut federal funding, you’re hurting our community.”

Local donors are already stretched by nonprofit needs. Abby Sienkiewicz, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence in the Springs, said there are 3,120 nonprofits in El Paso County, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics and 1,184 of those are registered with c(3) statuses with the Internal Revenue Service.

Junior Achievement President and CEO Carrie McKee said charitable giving has been one of the last things to recover following the Great Recession. She used the term “donor fatigue.”

“For a nonprofit, flat is the new up,” McKee said. “If you’re staying flat, you’re doing better than most. We had to dig into our reserves last year, as most did. I think donor fatigue centers around capital projects; there have been a lot of those. When an organization like us makes an operational ask from a consistent donor it might be for $100 a month. Capital campaigns go to people who might give $100,000 or $1 million.”

Junior Achievement receives no federal funds but assisted 16,000 students in the region in 2016, McKee said. Despite a 2016 budget of $837,000, McKee said she had to make cuts.

“We had to cut everything — staff, programs, events,” she said. “It’s like any business; you have to do more with less.”

United Way distributed $3.1 million from local donations to its partner agencies in the last fiscal year but had to cut a portion of the funding for its last two-year cycle.

“People are generous in Colorado Springs,” Aubrey said. “I think organizations will be more aggressive in their fundraising efforts and more creative. We could face the harsh reality of some local nonprofits closing.”

El Pomar Foundation is a big booster of nonprofits, contributing more than $20 million annually to Colorado charities. But it’s not the savior for all.

“If everybody thinks El Pomar Foundation will find a way to come up with another million dollars, well, that is very unlikely,” Kemppainen said.

El Pomar does give to United Way.

“Shawna’s right that people assume El Pomar’s going to fund everything,” Aubrey said, “and that’s just not possible.”