The Boys and Girls Club is not a sinking ship. It's a surviving ship.
That's how Executive Director Kam Kyzer said the youth development agency looks at itself and the economic challenges facing nonprofit organizations across the country. The mission is now to serve more with less.
"We are seeing more middle class families need our services," she said. "The demand is growing greatly, but our giving is on the decline. We're in uncharted waters."
Last year, her agency saw a more than 15 percent decline in giving. Charitable donations are down 11 percent so far for 2009, Mrs. Kyzer said.
The United Way of the CSRA, which contributes funds to the Boys and Girls Club, missed its $4.5 million fundraising goal for 2008 by $169,000. Charitable giving in the United States fell 2 percent for the first time in more than 20 years, from $314 billion in 2007 to $307 billion last year, according to Giving USA, an organization that tracks charitable giving.
Local nonprofits fear 2009 could be an even tougher year for donations.
But the demand for assistance hasn't decreased.
Golden Harvest Food Bank distributed 10.7 million pounds of food last year, and has already distributed 12.5 million so far this year, said associate director Barry Ford. Also,
corporate giving declined 25 percent last year for the nonprofit, which serves 19 counties in Georgia and 11 in South Carolina.
"Our big concern is the corporate issue. We're seeing less and less of those donations," Mr. Ford said. "When the help we're getting from the stimulus runs out, we'll really need that."
Federal stimulus money has also helped fill the gaps at the Boys and Girls Club, Mrs. Kyzer said. The $1 million designated to summer youth employment helped place 33 junior staffers at clubs in the Augusta area. Because of the decline in giving, year-round workers can only put in 25 hours per week rather than 40, she said.
"We still offer our summer camp eight hours a day. The same quality services are there," Mrs. Kyzer said. "We're just having to cut elsewhere."
Fundraisers such as the Steak and Burger Dinner have done well in spite of the slowdown, she said. Mrs. Kyzer said she plans to more aggressively seek out individual donors to help fundraising efforts.
Those sort of donors will increasingly become a target audience for charitable giving, said Rina Powell, the spokeswoman for the United Way of the CSRA.
"Most of our dollars come from individual giving," she said. "We have to really put the message out there and expand outreach to different parts of the community."
Mrs. Powell said that the United Way hopes to raise at least as much as last year. The goal will be announced at the annual kickoff on Aug. 24.
"In light of the economy, we're still determined," she said. "We're hoping to see our corporate giving have an uptick."
Golden Harvest has conducted more food drives and fundraisers than in years past over the past six months, Mr. Ford said. Those efforts and unsolicited donations have helped the agency see a 15 percent increase in individual donations, Mr. Ford said. With the economy showing signs of recovery, Mr. Ford said he hopes that charitable giving picks up.
"I think people can relate to our mission more now, because there are people they know that are in need," Mr. Ford said. "We're spreading the word. We're telling the stories. That's how we will see the increase in giving."
Reach Stephanie Toone at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
GIVING IN AMERICA
A survey conducted by the Giving USA Foundation discovered that:
- There was a 2 percent drop in giving, with an estimated $307.65 billions donated, which is the first decline reported to Giving USA since 1987
- Two-thirds of public charities saw a decrease in giving
- 54 percent of human services charities saw an increase in the need for services
- 74 percent of agencies devoted to youth development/serving youth reported being underfunded
- 53 percent of organizations that meet basic needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, reported being underfunded or severely underfunded
- More than 50 percent of Americans surveyed planned to give the same amount that they did last year
- More than 22 percent of Americans surveyed said they will donate less to charities this year than they did in 2008