When the federal government shut down last Tuesday, no one ever thought it would be shut down for more than a couple of days. As we go into the second week of the shutdown, there has been great impact to the nonprofit sector’s ability to do their work. Nonprofits are experiencing increased demand for services, stalled payments on government contracts, inability to conduct routine data inquiries, uncertainty of how to engage with their AmeriCorps members, and difficulty in their continued ability to employ staff.
With nearly 30% of nonprofits receiving revenues from government contracts, stalled payments from government contracts are placing a huge strain on nonprofits to meet the needs of their communities while keeping their doors open. Additionally, the impact of sequestration, a fragile economy, and now thousands of government employees suddenly without income, nonprofits are becoming further strained in fulfilling their missions.
Simple daily activities such as internet searches for data and information on government websites are now impossible due to the shutdown rendering the websites inoperable. The U.S. Census Bureau, one of the “go to” websites, is no longer available to assist a nonprofit in gathering key demographic information to make decisions on every day work, future planning, and creating strategy.
Many nonprofits leverage national service programs to build capacity or provide direct service to those they serve. Just last week, the Corporation for National and Community Service informed AmeriCorps members across the country they are required to serve during the shutdown, but without any compensation. AmeriCorps members already receive a modest stipend for their service and, as a condition of their service commitment, are not able to hold a second job while serving. This has become problematic for national service members because they find it increasingly difficult with each day of the shutdown to feed themselves and pay for housing.
As the days and weeks of the government shutdown continue, the aforementioned challenges will only become greater. Nonprofits must brace themselves for additional trials and the reality of making painful decisions that may compromise the quality of their programs and services. Decisions such as whether to buy much needed supplies and equipment, whether to forego important training and professional development, and ultimately, making decisions pertaining to staffing.
Making a decision regarding staff may become a reality for some nonprofits heavily reliant on government funding. Understanding your legal options is key to making the best decision during this time of uncertainty. Nonprofit HR, an organization providing guidance to nonprofits on Human Resources related topics and issues, is a great source for nonprofits faced with making decisions regarding staffing. Visit their website at http://www.nonprofithr.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Legal-Considerations-in-Layoffs_final_2013.pdf.
If you are experiencing challenges linked to the government shutdown either similar or dissimilar to that I have highlighted, I want to hear from you. Please email me directly at email@example.com.
Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: | Advocacy, AmeriCorps, continuing resolution, furlough, government, government shutdown, HR, Michigan Nonprofit Association, National Service, nonprofit, Public policy, shutdown