Time for a New Perspective: Sequestration and Nonprofits in Northeastern North Carolina

Across the board budget cuts in Washington, DC, will impact Northeastern North Carolina. There is no balancing act in Washington or Raleigh for that matter, that will not impact the most vulnerable.  Shifts in support services for families in the northeast are not new experiences among the poor. With sequestration, the most vulnerable is not just the end user, but the organizations whose mission is to provide critical services for those who cannot provide for themselves.   A cut to their resources, already under funded, pushes their governing boards, committees and commissions, to find new streams of income; jeopardizing their public and private oaths to serve.

Non profits do not sit on the sideline of economic decline; they are engaged in an unrelenting manner, on the front line of wherever poverty can be found. Identifying new revenue streams is a journey into futility unless the community better understands the role not for-profit organizations play.  Working quietly behind closed doors, staying underneath radar screens and contrary winds, has possibly served them well, until now. There is a need for a “coming out” party of sorts. Organizational visibility is needed. Their stories as vested stakeholders must be told. Intentionally engaging everyday people for their service of work, while building new constituencies, must define their ongoing strategy.

The poor, elderly and disabled are in and around our community. Non profits intentionally work to help meet their needs. There are never enough resources to go around. Budgets are reworked constantly to not only meet the needs of those being served, but to ensure the jobs of the nonprofit are secured. Balancing community and staffing needs of the nonprofit is a labor only made possible by passion, commitment and calling. All of us can attest to a deep sense of belonging to an ideal we hold in high regard.

When there are cuts, the community looks too non profits to offset what the cuts have done. It is really not as simple as they make it look. Typically, non profits are funded by a program that has a subsidy attached. Although subsidies may not be in agreement with the present political or public climate, its value in communities of poverty cannot be overstated.  Communities like northeastern North Carolina do not have the resources to meet the number of needs of the poor.  So while there is fierce debate over funding programs that help them, the debates do not solve the problem of poverty and so community supports are going to be needed.

Giving to a nonprofit organization will provide needed assistance for those they serve. The role of non profits in the community might seem small, but it is not.  They are shaped by local, state and national policy. Their resources are a patch work of a number of fragile funding sources. Areas with concentrated poverty centers, like northeastern North Carolina, must have your support as the eradication of poverty becomes a public emergency.  Giving the very best monetary contributions of any kind, sends a clarifying message. The community recognizes and understands the role non profits play, and have come alongside to help.