PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As people get ready to participate in Giving Tuesday, a new survey reveals nonprofits in Rhode Island are operating on a “razor-thin margin” — and need community support now more than ever.
“It’s really concerning,” said Nancy Wolanski, executive director of the Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island.
Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 as a contrast to retail spending holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The goal is to encourage people to donate time and money to nonprofits and philanthropies that matter to them.
“We’re all thinking about how, ‘this is great, the work charities do, and so on this day we’re going to support them.’ But we can’t look at it as a one day of partnership,” Wolanski said.
According to a survey of nearly 300 nonprofits conducted by United Way of Rhode Island and Grantmakers Council of Rhode Island, more than a third of the state’s nonprofits have three months or fewer of cash reserves.
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The survey reveals 60% of those who participated said demand for programs or services remains higher than pre-pandemic levels.
“While the resources that became available during the pandemic to support the response to COVID and socioeconomic and medical needs, those are starting to go away, the needs in community are not,” said Larry Warner, chief impact and equity officer at United Way of Rhode Island.
Inflation is also taking its toll, not only by increasing costs for non-profits, but also by leading to an uptick in the number of people seeking help and a decrease in the number of people able to give.
“If you don’t have a way to provide sustained investments in these organizations, you could see organizations providing essential services closing their doors,” Warner said.
While Giving Tuesday helps put non-profits front and center, Warner and Wolanski said the organizations need continued support.
“I’d really encourage you to think about Giving Tuesday, and Giving Wednesday, and Giving 2023,” Wolanski said. “So that you can really be an ongoing support and partner, both by giving and volunteering as we move forward.”
Warner said state and local lawmakers can also provide support to the nonprofit sector.
“They are in a key position to allocate resources that goes above and beyond what local individual donors can do, so we need a combination of the generosity of Rhode Islanders, and the support of state and municipal partners as well,” Warner said.