Our View – Never shortchange nonprofits

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In difficult economic times, nonprofits often suffer a double whammy. The governments and individuals they depend on for funding have less to give, while the demand for services grows as those teetering on the edge of economic survival grapple with higher food and energy prices.

Even in this largely affluent area, the need for help at this time is significant: Requests for food stamps are up 17 percent over last year; emergency needs and food assistance requests are up 11 percent; financial emergency requests are up 44 percent, and rent assistance requests have risen 35 percent.

At the same time, the citys food banks and nonprofits are at their lowest resource levels in years. The city must remember it can save money in the long run by keeping nonprofits going. Governments at all levels must strive to maintain funding for government-run social services programs, as well as supporting their nonprofit partners.

For fiscal year 2009, the City of Alexandria will fund about two-thirds of the requests from local nonprofits. Meeting all the requests is out of the question, especially in tight economic times such as these, and city officials should be commended for granting about 60 percent of the overall nonprofit requests. But the city should make sure it is giving all the support it can to these organizations that provide relief to its residents.

Individuals also should strive to do what they can. If you have money to give, consider giving locally instead of to a large national charity, which may be better able to weather such an economic storm.

If you are not able to donate money or goods, consider giving your time, especially if you have skills that could allow a nonprofit to redirect funding from operations to its clients.

If you are willing to help, nonprofits will surely appreciate your assistance.

For information on area nonprofit agencies, go to www.alextimes.com and click on Community Links.

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