Federal Shutdown Has Nonprofits Opening Services

Federal Shutdown Has Nonprofits Opening Services

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The biggest impact is likely felt in the Washington, D.C. area. Other regions that have a large per-capita federal workforce or military, such as Alaska, also will feel effects of the shutdown, according to David Thompson, vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington, D.C. The U.S. Department of Interior has a big impact in areas with Indian tribes, like in Oklahoma. “It affects large parts of the West. With a lot of tribes, there’s a lot of human services — areas that most politicians in D.C. don’t pay attention to — that could have real harsh impacts,” Thompson said.

Charities large and small have diverted their attention to address needs of furloughed employees and others affected by the shutdown.

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Some nonprofits are hearing that grants won’t be issued until the shutdown is over, Thompson said, and contractors, whether they are nonprofit or for-profit, are not expected to be paid until after the shutdown, if at all. Furloughed employees are likely to be reimbursed after a shutdown but “that doesn’t help you when your mortgage is due,” he said.

The National Parks Foundation is stepping in to clean up national parks but Thompson warned that could be detrimental in the long run. “Yes, you want clean parks. Cleanup is a public necessity,” he said, but the after-effects and loss of trust can be lasting. “When nonprofits step in to do what they do — solve problems — they end up paying staff but they’re treated as volunteers,” he said. In the past, some governments have not paid for those services and get used to volunteers doing the work. “Nonprofits have to divert from their mission for government not doing its job; those are downstream effects. I’m guessing that nonprofits burned by governments in the past probably are less likely to step in,” Thompson said.

Source Name: 
The NonProfit Times
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