A Publication of WTVP

“America’s Top Charities Face Big Challenges,” reads the headline on “The 400 charities that get the most in donations are still not raising nearly as much as they did before the recession.” That’s not news to anyone in the nonprofit world, and it’s a trend that has hit charitable organizations across the board, large and small.

“[The] focus on greater effectiveness and a more enduring, transformational change is key to doing more with less,” I wrote in December 2010, our last issue to focus on the not-for-profit sector. With economic growth still tepid, little has changed in the last year and a half. Collectively, the Heart of Illinois United Way’s 47 partner agencies will lose nearly $11 million in state and federal dollars from 2011 to 2012. Considering that last year’s United Way annual campaign raised just over $9 million… you can do the math. “These cuts,” adds the United Way’s Gina Edwards, “come at a time when the need for health and human care services are greatest.”

And yet, our local nonprofit agencies continue to take on the Herculean task of mitigating the impact of these funding shortfalls on the most vulnerable among us. One read through this issue’s centerpiece articleconfirms the extraordinary challenges faced by those living in poverty, as well as the agencies valiantly trying to fill the increased need for food, clothing, shelter and job training. With so many interconnected root causes, there is perhaps no issue more complex or difficult.

The Caterpillar Foundation has long led the way in addressing the issue of poverty, and the recent announcement of a partnership to bring LISC to the Peoria area is the latest example. Since its inception, LISC has invested $11 billion and leveraged $34 billion in total development to help transform distressed neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities. Having been rigorously assessed by the Caterpillar Foundation, LISC has a promising future here in Peoria.

Meanwhile, requests for support are coming in as fast as the cans of food flying off pantry shelves, and nonprofits are stepping up to the challenges of today’s economic climate—cutting the fat, becoming more nimble, increasing the effectiveness and reach of each dollar. Community awareness remains critical—that’s something we have tried to assist with in a modest capacity through our magazines. I began to list the nonprofits that have contacted us for exposure in the last year, but it grew so long, I decided to stop at the risk of leaving somebody out.

This type of exposure is a “big deal,” says Mark Roberts of the Community Foundation of Central Illinois. “We can tie back the exposure we received to the creation of two new endowed funds. That’s charitable capital that will be put to good use here in central Illinois for years to come.”

To all the nonprofits struggling to fulfill their missions in these challenging times, we salute you. iBi