Holiday season giving may be over, but philanthropy needed more than ever

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – After the Huntsville City Council approved the fiscal year 2015 budget, Mayor Tommy Battle acknowledged items conspicuously absent in their discussions: Non-profit funding.

He wrote in a letter: “Throughout the budget process, we met with a number of non-profit organizations seeking financial assistance from the city. We viewed outstanding presentations and listened to impassioned stories of need. Budget constraints, however, were unforgiving this year.”

The mayor then implored people to up their own charitable giving for a list of 16 non-profits the city could not afford to fund.

That list included the Arts Council, the Botanical Garden, Community Free Dental Clinic, Madison County Mental Health and more.

Stuart Obermann, CEO and President of the Huntsville Community Foundation says this was not unexpected.

“The level of funding for nonprofits here locally is far below what it was seven or ten years ago,” said Obermann. “In today’s economy, the big challenge non-profits are dealing with this reduction in funding from the public sector. State funding, local city and county, and certainly federal funding, has been reduced dramatically really starting in 2008.”

Some nonprofits don’t depend largely on public money. But for others, it can make up as much as 40 or 60 percent of their budget.

“So you can imagine what a detriment that is for them to try to carry out their mission with such a reduction.”

More than ever, non-profits are depending on private donations, from individuals and corporations. Whether by moral compulsion, or mere economics, Obermann puts it this way: “Helping the least of those among us helps us all have a better quality of life.”

Philanthropy is cyclical, and with the holidays soon gone, donations are set to drastically drop off.  But after a successful 2014 for charitable donations, Obermann hopes the charitable giving will continue to grow into the new year.