Editorial: Protect our services
December 15, 2009
Editor’s Note: This is part 3 in a series of editorials about the lessons learned from the economic recession.
When the stock market made its run off a cliff a year ago and many residents saw their retirement savings dwindle, many saw philanthropy as more of a risk than a reward. In other words, it became socially acceptable to be selfish.
Donations that had made it possible to have a full-service dining room for seniors fell by the wayside. Funds that had been used to advocate for women in abusive situations were frozen by the state. And local fund drives saw fractions of what they had seen in previous years.
The result? We have a system of charities and nonprofits who survived but are left wondering how they can avoid in the future the same funding pitfalls that made this year so challenging.
There is no easy answer. The wise nonprofit leaders spent the past year building relationships, and promoting low-cost programs. They realized that asking the community who has given so much to give more was foolish, not to mention short-sighted.
But as the economy begins to tick back up, we must stop and re-evaluate our local services. We must pledge to giving as much as we did prior to 2008’s collapse.
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Especially on the North Shore, which lacks a local government to help prioritize and protect essential services, we recommend a task force that would closely examine our programs, and offer recommendations on how they can better work together to decrease overhead costs, protect current service levels and even build a rainy-day fund to further insulate the region from economic hills and valleys.
Think of it as a master plan to keep our community’s services equitable between the rich, the middle class and the poor.
Next week: In our next piece on lessons we’ve learned from this recession, we’ll look at communities who recruit big box stores to bring more consistent tax revenue.