Customer review: invest in the good

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By Sheila Bravo, CEO, Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Promotion (DANA)

well done

The pandemic has brought out a crucial point: When the going gets tough, nonprofits seize the opportunity to lobby for the greater good and social impact. Now in recovery mode, Delaware nonprofits are focusing on the laser to come out of this crisis healthier and stronger. But what we need is support.

We need more public investment in nonprofits – the very institutions that focus only on improving our lives, our environment, our neighborhoods, our cities and our state. That’s why we’re calling on the Delaware General Assembly to support positive community change by increasing state contract rates and grant levels in this year’s budget bills.

Delaware nonprofits provide essential health and social services, educate young people, and develop skills for better jobs. They help lift people out of poverty, feed our souls, and take care of our pets. They manage the environment, preserve history and inspire us with art and culture. Since the start of the pandemic, nonprofit staff have worked tirelessly to support people who have lost their jobs, students who have struggled with distance education, and families trying to keep their homes. They mobilized to feed the young people, families and the elderly who could not leave their homes. They cheered us up with art and entertainment and continued to keep our parks and waterways clean.

They didn’t do it alone. The wider community has risen up to help many Delaware nonprofits weather the pandemic storm. As volunteering declined, foundations and donors increased their giving. Federal aid, through the CARES Act and loans that can be converted into grants, has allowed nonprofits to keep their staff employed and continue to operate when fundraising funds have dried up.

We also call on the State of Delaware to increase its support. Years ago, the government made the political decision to shift direct care services from centralized state-owned institutions to community-based organizations. The promise was that if nonprofits contracted with the state, they would be paid to provide these essential services. They do, but at rates set years ago.

Nonprofits are resourceful and use private donations and volunteers to provide services at a fraction of what it would cost taxpayers if the government provided those services directly. But it’s not free. Nonprofit agencies have the same costs as businesses, and those costs have been rising for years and will continue to rise. It is time to increase contract rates and increase subsidy levels to cover these growing costs.

We are delighted that the Joint Finance Committee voted to meet the McNesby Act’s legislated commitment to pay organizations that provide care to people with disabilities at least 85% of actual costs. However, these specific providers are only a fraction of the many contracted partners that several government agencies rely on to provide services to those in need – often the most vulnerable in our community. Given the healthy revenue forecast for fiscal 2022, the General Assembly is expected to act now to increase contracts with nonprofits and increase grant funding for Delaware nonprofits.

Devoting additional public resources to supporting the good work of community organizations is necessary to strengthen the vitality of our state, prolong a strong economy and ensure the quality of life of every Delawarean.

For more information about DANA, visit their website atwww.DelawareNonprofit.org.

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