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PNS Daily Newscast - November 19, 2018. 


More than 1,200 missing in the California wildfires. Also on the Monday rundown: A pair of reports on gun violence in the nation; and concerns that proposed changes to 'Green Card' rules favor the wealthy.

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Charities and Nonprofits Can’t Fill Government Spending Gaps

May 12, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas - Charitable giving is on the rise, but it's still far from pre-recession levels. While some see government budget shortfalls as opportunities to de-emphasize government spending, others believe government, the private sector, foundations and nonprofit organizations all have unique roles to play.

Can charities make up for sweeping government budget cuts during a bad economy? Patrick Bresette, associate director of public works at the Demos Center for the Public Sector, says "no." While he praises church, nonprofit, and foundation attempts to respond to growing needs, Bresette warns that political efforts to limit the role of government can lead to deep tears in the social safety net.

"You really reduce the kind of overall capacity, and there's just no way that nonprofits or foundations can pick up the scale of what they see coming at them."

Bresette thinks many people these days are wrestling with split feelings about the extent to which nonprofits and charities should be taking up the slack.

"They both want charities and churches to play a role, but they also deeply support programs like Social Security, health care and education. That's often disconnected from their understanding of the roles that these various systems and nonprofits and foundations play."

Each sector plays a unique role, Bresette says, balancing and supporting the others. Nimble foundations, for example, can spearhead experimental and specialized initiatives not suited to either the political arena or the marketplace. Government, he says, can provide a steady response to proven needs.

With state lawmakers considering massive cuts to community mental-health services, Texas' Hogg Foundation is piloting a program to provide more training opportunities for psychologists, hoping it will lead to more mental health resources in underserved communities. However, with 102 Texas counties having no psychologists, according to a recent study, Michele Guzmán, Hogg's assistant director for research and evaluation, says the million-dollar initiative can't begin to replace government spending.

"People should look at multiple ideas and sources of funding. There should be some creativity, and there could be some cross-fertilization here for different types of funding sources to say, "OK, this is how you can do it." So I hope that may be one of our contributions."

Guzmán hopes to create a model for a less cash-strapped government to build upon in future years, perhaps spreading to other states.

More information on public works from the Demos Center for the Public Sector is online at demos.org/publicworks. Details on the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health initiative are at hogg.utexas.edu.

Peter Malof, Public News Service - TX