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Arkansas Nonprofits Surveyed On How They're Coping With Decline In Donations

Arkansas Community Foundation Chief Program Officer Sarah Kinser

A survey of over 400 Arkansas nonprofits finds that not only has funding decreased, but the money allocated to organizations often has strings attached.

The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation and the Arkansas Community Foundation partnered with Communities Unlimited to conduct the poll. Leaders of nonprofits were asked how they are operating while experiencing declines in contributions.

As the giving season begins, thhose who produced the report want Arkansans to keep in mind the vital role nonprofits play in their community.

Sarah Kinser, chief program officer for the Arkansas Community Foundation, spoke with KUAR News intern MaKayla Ealy about the study and how individuals and organizations can support these programs despite the decline.

To hear the full interview, click the audio link above.

Interview Highlights

There were remarks about a decrease in the pool of donors that are available. Is there any idea of what is causing this decrease or how that is affecting these nonprofits?

“Although Arkansans continue to be extremely charitable and in fact we are one of the most charitable states, there are some factors that may be making it harder for Arkansans to give. We know that when the economy is difficult people are a little bit less likely to give. When folks feel like they’re financially secure they’re more likely to give. We also know that in some parts of the state there’s been a loss of population so there are fewer folks in the community to give and the ones who are there may have greater needs than before.”

What can we do?

“I think the most important message throughout the year is to continue to give. Our state is known for its generosity and I think that’s one of the best things about living here. So when you give also think about what does that organization really need to become stronger and more effective. Often we’ve heard you have to look at the organization’s overhead how much money are they spending on their own operations. And if they spend too much then that is an indication that they are not good stewards. And we want to challenge that a little bit because, while certainly we want to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to us, nonprofits need to be able to invest in staffing, in good technology, in effective programs, and evaluating their organizations in order to be more effective at serving the people they want to help.”

Is there any idea of what organizations can do to with these declining donor pools to enhance their capacity development?

“First is being really strategic about your fundraising plan and your communications plan, to make sure that people in the community know about your organization and the good work that you’re doing and that you have the opportunity to connect with them. Another thing is to look at collaboration often times we find that nonprofit organizations are serving many of the same clients. Maybe a homeless shelter is also serving the same folks who could use financial literacy services from another nonprofit, or who could use clothing from another nonprofit. So when they’re able to work together they can make those dollars stretch further. Collaboration does take a little more time but were often more effective when we can partner up.”