Government Shutdown 2019

Printer-friendly version

America Deserves Better Than Another Shutdown

If Congress and the White House don’t reach agreement by February 15, 2019 on the issues that brought about the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, the federal government will shut down again, inflicting more and lasting harm on the American people and the nonprofit organizations that serve them.

Another federal government shutdown is unacceptable. All three key segments of our nation’s economy – public, private, and nonprofit – sent letters telling the President and congressional leaders to end the shutdown immediately, because it hurts people, it hurts the economy, and it hurts individual businesses and nonprofits. See these letters from the National Governors Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the National Council of Nonprofits.

Why It Matters

The shutdown demonstrated how much the nonprofit community and federal government interact, and how much the public and government alike rely on nonprofits to fill the gaps. An important lesson learned by the public as a result of the 35-day shutdown is that nonprofits are integral to a properly functioning society and economy. In return, charitable organizations have both the opportunity and responsibility to help ensure that politicians never treat the lives and livelihoods of Americans as a bargaining tactic.


Congress and the White House must reach an agreement by February 15, 2019 or parts of the federal government will shut down due to lack of funding.

Take Action

Individuals – Nonprofit Board Members, Staff Members, Volunteers, Donors, and Vendors

We all need to lift our voices to ensure our elected officials know the human cost of their political games. Increasing the pressure on your federal officials is the best way to get them to end the senseless shutdown that is hurting everyone across the country. Make the call, send the mail, tweet the following message:

The government shutdown reminded everyone that nonprofits are the foundation of our communities, working to build well-being every day. Don't undermine our communities; shutdowns are completely unacceptable and should never be an option. 

  • Contact the White House. Dial 202-456-1111 and tell the President not to allow any future shutdowns. 
  • Call your two U.S. Senators. Use the “Choose a State” dropdown on this list of Senators for their direct contact information, or simply call the Senate switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with the Senators from your state. Tell your Senators not to allow any future shutdowns.
  • Call your U.S. Representative. Simply call the House switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your Representative. Not sure who’s representing you? Find your Representative. Tell your Representative not to allow any future shutdowns. 

Send Emails

Send Tweets

Send a tweet that tells your federal policymakers how you feel about another government shutdown. Here's a sample tweet: 

"[@Representative/Senator's Twitter Handle] The #governmentshutdown reminded everyone that #nonprofits are the foundations of our communities. Don't undermine our communities; shutdowns are completely unacceptable and should never be an option."


Please share your stories with us – both what you are seeing among the populations you serve and what constraints your nonprofit is experiencing – so we can assess emerging trends and elevate key issues for greater visibility. After you do that, place a call to your local newspaper and TV station. If enough people know about the real consequences of this shutdown, the resulting public pressure will force the politicians to end this senseless shutdown. You can also share your story on Twitter, using the hashtag #NonprofitShutdownStories.

Foundations and Other Grantmakers

Please reach out to your grantees to listen to their needs. Some may be doing fine, others may inspire you with how they’re putting your most recent grants to work helping others, and a few may need extra support – financial and moral.


The longest federal government shutdown in U.S. history occurred because President Trump refused to back off his demand for $5.7 billion to fund a wall on the southern border and congressional Democrats consistently rejected the demand. Nine cabinet departments were mostly shuttered and 800,000 federal employees were either furloughed or being required to work without pay. Plus, an unknown number of the estimated 3.7 million federal contractors were not paid – and likely will not be paid retroactively for time locked out during the shutdown. The adversely affected departments and selected high-profile programs included Agriculture (payments to farmers), Commerce (census planning, weather service), Homeland Security (border protection, transportation security), Housing and Urban Development (housing vouchers), Interior (national parks), Justice (courts and law enforcement), State, Transportation (safety inspections), and Treasury (IRS).

The shutdown is estimated to have cost the economy $11 billion, but the impact on nonprofits and the individuals they serve will have lasting consequences. Nonprofits found that furloughed federal employees could not issue grants or contracts to nonprofits nor make payments to reimburse nonprofits for work they already performed for the government. Some of these organizations were forced to take out lines of credit or layoff staff and reduce or eliminate certain services, costs in economic and human terms that will never be recovered even when government operations return to normal. Equally harmful were the indirect, yet still significant financial and human costs of the shutdown that charitable organizations are experiencing with increasing frequency. For example, furloughed federal employees joined the already long lines of individuals seeking assistance at food banks and other nonprofit providers. Tragically, nonprofits reported the shutdown played out in terms of stressing worried couples and parents to the point of forcing some family members to seek protection at domestic violence shelters. The dollars and hours of service diverted from nonprofit missions to address this politician-inflicted crisis will never be recouped and the unnecessary human toll will not be erased in too many instances.

Recent News

State-Specific Information

Charitable nonprofits are witnessing first-hand – and many are experiencing – the significant problems flowing from the shutdown. The following accounts share samplings of what front-line nonprofits are reporting about what is happening in local communities across the country:

Other Resources

Find Your State Association of Nonprofits

Find Your State Association of Nonprofits

Connect with local resources and expertise


Connect With Us

1. Sign up for updates

Stay up-to-date with the latest nonprofit resources and trends by subscribing to our free e-newsletters.

2. Follow us on social media