The State of Nonprofits Post-Government Shutdown

After two weeks, the federal government has finally reopened for business. As previously mentioned, the shutdown took a huge toll on nonprofit organizations when it comes to volunteers and grant money needed by organizations to continue services and programs offered by nonprofit organizations.


The state of the federal government has hit some nonprofit organizations hard and cut into funding on programs and services. The government shutdown should teach us a lesson. That lesson is to always have a plan, and to diversify funding for our organizations.

So what do nonprofits have to deal with two weeks later now that the government has reopened?

The Council for Nonprofits says the partial closure of the federal government shows that the government is attempting to offload public responsibilities onto philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. This is a problem because research shows that the nonprofit sector as a whole receives nearly half of it’s revenue from earned income. According to the council, the government is the second largest source of revenue paying nonprofits to deliver contracted services on behalf of governments. Essentially, this means that every dollar taken from nonprofits by the government, must be raised elsewhere.

In addition to the government passing more responsibility to nonprofits, the government shutdown also resulted in backed up grant and funding requests. This means many nonprofits may not get the funding they need to stay open. Many smaller nonprofits may be faced with shutting down until their funding is back in place. In fact, 43 percent of nonprofits surveyed felt a delay in government payments due to the shutdown. Additionally, the government shutdown affected millions of service volunteers nationwide.

However, there are some steps nonprofits can take when it comes to funding. Double checking any kind of agreement, like a grant or contract can be beneficial. Some programs supported by nonprofits are not fully dependent upon annual appropriations by federal grant money. There may be an alternative way to raise enough funds to keep some programs and services going despite lack of federal grant funds. In terms of volunteers, volunteers and executive directors should collaborate to form a strategy to help save money in certain areas and programs, and how to run the organization more efficiently while still meeting the needs of the general public.

Overall the shutdown is a reminder to rethink your long-term strategy and never fully depend on one method of funding. A diversified fundraising strategy is the key to sustaining a successful organization. It’s never too late to begin looking at alternative methods of funding. There are many fundraising strategies out their in addition to state and federal grants, such as events, peer-to-peer fundraising and individual donations, and social media and online fundraising.  New fundraising strategies are always developing. Being innovative is the key to success.


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