Monday, December 29, 2008

Loaves & Fishes Reports Financial Support is the Same as Last Year

At a time when the economy has seemed to be in collapse and there's been fear that support and care for homeless people was quickly waning, Loaves & Fishes' Director of Advocacy reports that "Financial support is steady, about the same as last year, even as some of our donors face tougher times themselves."

A missive that Joan Burke sent, today, to parties on an L&F email list, tells us that donors "were even more generous this year than in the past" with respect to the organization's Christmas wishlist of items for stocking stuffers [i.e., warm hats, gloves, coats, socks, etc.].

In an interview this reporter had with Sister Libby, L&F's Executive Director, last June, Libby expressed concern about declining contributions and fear that Christmastime would present special difficulties. Here, from my report last June:
Sister Libby told me that donors have been sending in smaller checks in the last month and that the organization must brace itself for tough times. The Christmas season is primetime for receipt of donations, but it is sure to be difficult to inspire people to give if economic indicators are correct that signal more -employment and -mortgage-payment difficulties and yet higher gas-price problems.
In an Oct 24 story in the Sacramento Bee, Loaves & Fishes' Executive Director had more to say about the dire circumstance of her organization:
At the same time, more people are asking for services from nonprofits, particularly those that serve the poor.

"It's kind of scary," said Sister Libby Fernandez of Loaves and Fishes, which provides food and other assistance to homeless people.

Loaves and Fishes is seeing at least 10 percent more clients this year over last year, said Fernandez, and is down about 20 percent in donations. A golf event that would have put $80,000 into the agency's coffers was canceled when a corporate sponsor bailed out, citing economic troubles.

"We are counting on November and December, the giving season, to pull us through or we are going to have to start making cutbacks," Fernandez said.
Perhaps this story means little other than to tell us that it is difficult to predict the future. While the economic decline in our country is far, far worse than was thought in June or October, gas prices have returned to low levels. Also, it may be that the more dire the economic situation, the more people see themselves in the faces of the homeless and, thus, the more willing they are to contribute to homeless causes. BUT, it is also possible that some charities are inclined to exaggerate the difficulty of their circumstance in order to motivate fence-sitting contributors to give.

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