With donations down, non-profits now fear the fiscal cliff

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on November 28, 2012 at 11:51 PM

DALLAS -- Non-profits in North Texas said donations are down from year-to-year, but many are more worried about what the so-called fiscal cliff would mean to their survival.

"I think that the ramifications of this can be catastrophic for non-profits, and we need to be considering how we put together budgets for 2013 based on expectations," said Janette Monear, President of Texas Trees Foundation. "If Congress closes loopholes and raises the taxes on the upper-income areas, we could see donations and giving decline. This decline will have a huge ripple effect for years to come. It has been interesting that no one on the national, state, or local levels are speaking out about this."

Volunteers at the Foster Kids Charity, a Dallas-area 501(c)3, are not as busy as they were last year.

"Last year we served about 2,000 kids on Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year, we're hoping to make a 1,000," said Michelle Armour, Foster Kids Charity.

The need is there, Armour added, but donations are not.

"Yeah, a lot of kids will go with nothing," she said. "We're trying to at least make sure they have a stuffed doll or a brand-new toy - something special to make them feel special and know that we care about them."

Non-profits all over North Texas tell us are feeling the pinch.

The HOPE Center in Arlington owes $8,000 to the Tarrant Area Food Bank. The Family Place, an emergency shelter for women and children, said it is creating a contingency budget. And The Salvation Army said it's still too early to tell how generous donors will be with its Red Kettle campaign.

The fiscal cliff is worrisome not just because taxes might go up, but also because Congress might cut out the income tax deduction for donating to charities, which collectively costs the government $50 billion a year.

"In general, our local non-profit community is already hurting, due to tighter budgets and fewer contributions because of the recession, and if they had to take another hit, some would most certainly not survive. They are barely hanging on now," said Ashlee Kleinert, co-founder of Executives in Action. "Sadly, this is a time when their demand for services has probably never been higher."

"I think it could have a huge impact on what we do everyday," Monear added.

Donors helped the Texas Trees Foundation plant 17,000 trees this year, but Monear said the future of non-profits like hers is threatened with the economy in jeopardy of going over the cliff.

"The less discretionary funds people have," she explained, "the less they have to give. That's the bottom line for non-profits."

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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