The Not-For-Profit, Funding Scramble Blues

Rich, Steve, Sonia, Susan, Tania, Pat, Katherine, Karl, Lavonda, Roberto, Rhonda, Sherise, Greg, Angelica, Kacie, Rosemary, Zac, Kelly, Mercedes, Zoe.

In the nearly 12 years I have worked for a non-profit neighborhood organization, I have had twenty co-workers. Eighteen of the twenty listed above either quit or were fired.

The list above is roughly chronological. In my time here, we have had a maximum of 5 employees at any one time. We are currently at four. The final name on the list is quitting to go to grad school at the end of the year. We will not replace this person, putting our staff force at three, the lowest number since I started.

This is the second straight time we have decided not to replace a person who quit. The hiring of a new staffperson usually brings a vague sense of excitement and anticipation, at least during an amicable split by the departing staffperson. Instead we are experiencing the roiling gut-check of spreading work responsibilities around and wondering about the long-term viability of our organization.

We no longer have the luxury of a staffperson working exclusively on issues of bank redlining and predatory lending, we make do with inexperienced and untrained staff. We can’t cover all the issues that are having an impact on our neighborhood. We can’t send out as many mailings or spend money for refreshments at meetings. We have to spend time researching and writing grants (or running fundraisers) instead of knocking on doors in our neighborhood.

Such is life when you lose 38% of your budget in a little over one year.

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