Everyone loves the underdog. Everyone, that is, except donors.
At least that's what the statistics say, as small charities and non-profit organizations dedicated to social services in Philadelphia and across the nation have reported increased struggles with fundraising in recent years.
Meanwhile, larger organizations like universities and hospitals are reaping greater profits than ever.
Eileen Heisman, the president and CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust - a national charity based in Philadelphia that helps donors direct their philanthropic gifts - said larger organizations have an advantage because they have ties to a pool of wealthy donors, including alumni and former patients.
Heisman, who is also an adjunct professor in Penn's School of Social Policy and Practice, said smaller philanthropies "don't have easy access to those donors and the causes aren't as appealing, even though they might be much needier."
Groups like Philabundance, which provides food to low-income families in the region, are worried about their future.
Martha Buccino, the senior vice president for strategic development at Philabundance, said that, despite a satisfactory year, the future is "tenuous."
She said the majority of donors to Philabundance are not affluent, and as the economy approaches a potential recession, these people will cut back on their charitable gifts.
"We're fortunate in that we have very loyal donors," Buccino said. She fears for the future, however, because the demand for social services, especially food, in the Philadelphia region is growing rapidly.
Another organization facing funding shortages is the Youth Outreach Adolescent Community Awareness Program, a group dedicated to prevention and care of health issues such as HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections among Philadelphia youth.
Program manager of YOACAP Duerward Beale said the group has struggled to raise money since the Sept. 11 attacks.
The majority of YOACAP funding comes from local, state or federal government grants, which Beale said have become scarcer in the past few years.
"It's very competitive," Beale said. "There's just not enough money to go around."
Penn, on the other hand, has experienced an increase in the quantity and size of donations.
According to the Penn Fund Web site, during the fiscal year of 2007, Penn raised $24,095,414 dollars - an increase of 14.1 percent from the year before. The number of donors supplying this money rose by 4 percent, to more than 27,000.
Though the situation facing social-service groups is alarming, Heisman said there is hope for small philanthropic organizations.
She compared charities to businesses, saying they have to focus on creativity to overcome barriers. In the meantime, organizations will continue the struggle to raise money and provide services for the needy in the area.
"Philadelphia reflects the economic inequalities of our society," Heisman said.Comments powered by Disqus
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