Gifts down, demands up for Vineyard non-profits
More than half of Vineyard non-profit organizations saw contributions decrease over the winter, while demands for health and social services increased significantly, according to a recent survey by the Martha's Vineyard Donors Collaborative (MVDC).
The MVDC conducted the confidential survey in May 2009, to measure the effects of the recession on Vineyard non-profit organizations, from October 2008 to March 2009. For comparison purposes, some of the survey questions were the same as those used in national surveys conducted by Guidestar, a charity rating service, and the Nonprofit Finance Fund.
Of the 56 total responses to the MVDC survey, 38 came from organizations with annual revenues of more than $25,000, which includes nine of the Vineyard's 11 largest non-profits, based on financial statements from those filing an IRS form 990. The other 18 were non-profits with annual revenues of less than $25,000.
According to the MVDC survey results, 56 percent of Vineyard non-profit organizations experienced a decrease in contributions, compared to 52 percent nationwide. Smaller Vineyard non-profit organizations were hit harder, with 66 percent receiving fewer contributions, compared to 50 percent of organizations nationwide.
"To me, the most compelling statistic is that 71 percent of our health and human service agencies have seen an increased demand for services," MVDC executive director Peter Temple said in a phone call yesterday. "And that's telling us about how much Vineyarders are being hurt by the recession, that they're turning to these agencies for more services."
Examples of Island health and human service agencies include Martha's Vineyard Hospital, Martha's Vineyard Community Services, Hospice, the Vineyard Nursing Association, and the Island Food Pantry.
The survey results show that 64 percent of the Island's health and human service agencies saw contributions decrease at the end of last year. Fifty percent of them expect to operate at a deficit this year, to meet the increased demand for services, Mr. Temple said.
It will be very difficult for some of the non-profit organizations that are taxpayer supported - through state funds, which are being cut, and grants that are being reduced - to become 100 percent dependent on individual contributions, he added.