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NC Nonprofits Looking for Ways to Continue to Serve

September 29, 2010

DURHAM, N.C. - With North Carolina's unemployment rate at 10.1 percent, thousands in the state count on nonprofits for supplemental food, health care and education for their children. But a continuing decrease in nonprofit donations is forcing charities to think of innovative ways to survive, explains Trisha Lester of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits.

"This is the time for experimentation and you've got to take risks. Do it differently. Just because it's been done one way for the past 10 to 15 years, doesn't mean it's the right way. "

Starting today, hundreds of nonprofits are convening in Durham for a two-day summit to discuss ways they can maintain their funding and services. Many nonprofits have benefited from economic stimulus money to maintain and enhance some of their programs. Some of those funds are scheduled to run out at the end of this month, leaving organizations with a gap in their budgets.

Tight budgets have also prompted donors to become more scrutinizing when it comes to whom they give money to, explains David White from Western Carolina Community Action.

"We don't mind folks saying, 'What is the effectiveness of this particular program?" We welcome that kind of scrutiny. But just to say across the board, 'Well we're not gonna fund any nonprofits', that doesn't really make sense to me."

Western Carolina Community Action, along with others across the state, was able to fund additional early childhood education programs as a result of stimulus funds. The organization is hoping that money remains a permanent part of federal funding.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC