Story Category: The Bay Net Exclusives »
Non-Profit Organizations Tell Their Story
California, MD - 2/4/2013
By Dick Myers
A new group representing the 26 non-profit agencies that receive funding from St. Mary’s County is doing a full-court press to improve community awareness about what they do. The agencies have been faced with declining county funding over the last few years, from .49 percent of the county budget to .39 percent in the current year.
“We want to stop the bleeding right here, said Joseph Anderson, president of the Greenwell Foundation, at a public meeting of the group called Vital Community Connections (VCC) on Thursday, January 31 at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center.
These non-profit groups are called “non-county agencies” in the county budget. That title grates on the members of VCC, who feel it leads to confusion. Laura Joyce, executive director of Southern Maryland Center for Family Advocacy said at the meeting, “We are definitely in this county, of this county and for this county.”
Their message is that the organization is greater than the sum of their parts and if they stick together and get their message out they can accomplish much, just as their individual organizations do. In a Power Point Presentation to the more than 200 people who packed the center’s meeting hall, the collective value of their organizations was reported for the first time.
Those statistics, gathered by VCC from just 18 of the 26 members who reported, includes:
·64,433 clients served
·$6.7 million in donations
·$8.7 million in matching grants at risk
·$20 million in total budgets
·353,900 volunteer hours
Some of those grants are in jeopardy because they are contingent on county funding.
According to the presentation, nationally 73 percent of all contributions to charitable organizations are from individuals. Nonprofits:
·Generate $1.1 trillion every year through services
·Provide 13.5 million jobs
·Account for 5.4 percent of the GDP
·Account for nine percent of all wages paid.
The so-called “Non-County agencies” provide services in the areas of culture, humanitarian needs, education, youth, business and recreation. The organization believes: “These are NOT non-essential governmental services,” according to the presentation. The services are all in the county budget.
The VCC members, according to the presentation, supplant the budget “in a highly responsible fashion” and are a “most cost-effective approach to outsourcing for services,” and a “most effective, less burdensome governmental option.”
Just as volunteer fire and rescue organizations save the county money that would otherwise have to be spent by government, and parochial schools save the education budget, so to do these VCC organizations provide a “bang for the buck,” the VCC members believe. “We couldn’t replace these programs under the umbrella of government,” Joyce said.
Bob Randall, also of the Greenwell Foundation board, explained that another round of Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC) are looming on the horizon, and the county’s economic engine can only be protected by the community providing the infrastructure needed to support whatever is here and likely to come in. “We think there is not a broad understanding of the infrastructure provided by all of our organizations together,” he said. Infrastructure is not only roads and schools but the services provided by the VCC members.
Nancy Easterling, executive director of Sotterley, noted that tourism is the county’s second leading industry after the base and that every dollar spent in the state on tourism equates to $33 more to the state’s economy.
Anderson said, “We are an economic power. We are not little do-gooder organizations floating around in space.” He said the organizations are grateful for what the county has provided and continues to provide. “The commissioners are stewards of our dollars. We need to let them know that,” he said.
Several of the commissioners during the last budget deliberations that featured cuts to the “non-county agencies” expressed a desire to wean the agencies off county funding.
When asked during a question and answer session what the organizations should request in their budget submissions to the county due this week, Anderson, a former county commissioner, said he couldn’t tell each organization what to ask for. But he added that if they needed what they asked for last year (and that was cut), then they should ask for the needed amount again.
“We are hopeful that the power of the people will sway reasonable people,” Anderson concluded.
In the lobby outside the meeting room many of the VCC members set up booths explaining what they do. And the organization is hopeful of holding other public meetings prior to the county budget decision in late May.
Comment On This Story!
Send This Story to a Friend!