More often than not, non-profit organizations are praised for the work they do to help the community, whether they help people, animals, the environment or something else. Yet each and every year these organizations struggle to find the funding to be fully operational and provide their services.
During the first week of June, the Rhode Island Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Program was forced to reduce services from five days a week to four. They just did not have the funding to stay open the fifth day.
In the governor’s budget, the program was being allotted $129,094. Five years ago, the program operated on $425,000 and has since suffered nearly a 70 percent decrease in state funding.
Normally, the program receives nearly 65 percent of their necessary funds from fundraising efforts; however, state funding is still necessary.
Fortunately, the General Assembly swooped in at the last minute with the save and budgeted $229,000 for the program. Judy Earle, executive director of the Elizabeth Buffum Chace Center, said they were able to restore the program to full-service last week after hearing the news. The EBC Center is a member agency of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which sponsors the Advocacy Program.
In today’s economy, many non-profit organizations are being asked to provide the same amount of service but with less funding. Additionally, because the economy is affecting everyone’s wallet, donations are less and less across the board. So organizations such as the Advocacy Program that rely on fundraising for the majority of their income are hit hard.
We cannot expect to give non-profits the lowest budget possible and expect the same service as before. There is a breaking point. The Advocacy Program proved that by closing their doors; according to Earle, victims of domestic abuse came to the office on those three Mondays and found no help.
Earle has said she was so thankful that the General Assembly increased funding to the program, allowing them to open their doors to the victims who need them. Truthfully, all Rhode Islanders should be thankful that the General Assembly, Speaker Gordon Fox and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed support organizations like this and found a way to provide for them.
While it is true that all of the items in the state budget are important and all play their part in making our state operate, there is something to be said about the organizations that are dedicated to helping Rhode Islanders and do so with limited funding.
While praising these organizations with words of encouragement is great, praising them with the necessary levels of funding is even better.