February 23rd, 2012 - What happens to non-profits during a recession? A quick web search on charitable giving turns up many news articles about how charities have been hit exceedingly hard during the most recent economic downturn.
It's pretty obvious why this happens - the funding that organizations receive from donors can quickly dry up as donors are forced to tighten their belts. In a bad year it's easier to stop charitable donations than to give up buying household groceries or paying the mortgage. At the same time, the need for nonprofit services greatly increases as a large number of people lose their jobs, their homes and their savings, and are forced to rely on free and/or low-cost services. Now is the time they are needed most! The 2011 report from the Nonprofit Finance Fund looks a bit grim. Indeed, 77% of nonprofits polled last year saw an "increase in demand for services", while at the same time "stretching resources and developing strategies to do more with less". With less income but more work, nonprofits are being squeezed from both sides!
However, I believe the silver lining to this trend is that it forces nonprofits to re-think the ways that their organizations are run, and to optimize the resources that they already have. According to the report, by far the most common answer to the question of "How Can We All Better Support Nonprofits?" is to "Support General Operating & Capacity Costs"! Since 50% of respondents agreed that this would be the best way to support them, I see a huge opportunity for Everybody Solar to offer a needed service. If we can offer free solar power to an organization that is trying to cope with the recession and increased demand, we have very effectively decreased one of their largest obstacles - paying the bills. And this isn't just a one-time donation in their time of need, since the solar panels will continue to provide free electricity for years to come. It's a gift that keeps on giving, whether donors give again in the future or not. The savings continue to add up in the long-term. Finally, a nonprofit that has low operating costs is much more "recession proof" and has more flexibility when dealing with hard financial times. It can also divert more funding and effort to those people it is trying to serve, rather than focusing on just staying afloat as an organization.
I believe that giving the gift of free solar power is an excellent, green, smart, and frankly fun way to help nonprofits solve some of their most pressing problems, especially in this time of economic uncertainty. This is why I'm a proud volunteer and donor to Everybody Solar. Won't you join me?!
Written by: Rebecca Pedinoff