January 4, 2007 in Idaho

Giving spirit benefits Idaho charities

Meghann M. Cuniff Staff writer
 
Jesse Tinsley photo

Laci Chudy, 3, helps her mother, Angie, load food into their car at the Post Falls Food Bank on Wednesday. The food bank nearly closed in 2006, but a large donation by Super 1 Foods and a food drive have kept the doors open. Manager Cathy Larson says the food bank is better off than it was a year ago.
(Full-size photo)

Idaho charities had a good year in 2006, and the outlook for 2007 is bright, according to survey results released by The Collins Group, a fundraising consulting organization.

More than half of the 105 organizations reported donations last year that were equal to or more than in past years. And fewer nonprofits – 16 percent – reported having to cut services because of money problems in 2006 than in previous years.

“The trend seems to be pretty steady,” said Caryl Johnston, executive director of United Way of Kootenai County. “We’ve got a few groups who are down just a little bit but a few groups who are up just a little bit.”

The Post Falls Food Bank is one of the groups that’s up a bit.

Last year about this time, workers were afraid they’d have to shut down the food bank because of a lack of donations. But the community came together and gave, and while the cupboards and coffers may not be as flush as she’d like, food bank Manager Cathy Larson said things are looking up.

“We were a little bit short for Christmas and Thanksgiving, but once again we put a cry out to the community and the community came to our rescue,” Larson said. “I’ve never seen such a community that is so supportive.”

The steadiness of most charitable organizations isn’t a surprise to some in the nonprofit sector.

“People are showing an increasing interest in philanthropy,” said Cathy Silak, president and chief executive officer of the Idaho Community Foundation. “I think some of the media attention that has been placed on the (Bill and Melinda) Gates Foundation and big donors like Warren Buffett – it just really captures the imagination of people.”

The report showed that 72 percent of nonprofit groups that use volunteers saw the numbers increase or remain steady in the past year. Ten percent reported a drop in the number of volunteers.

Most Idaho charities – 81 percent – are conducting major fundraising campaigns. Of those that aren’t, 45 percent are planning to do so within two years.

While annual giving has remained steady or increased, so has the number of donors committing to charities. In 2006, 71 percent of charities who responded to the survey reported their number of donors has remained the same or grown.

The areas that give Idaho charities the greatest challenge are finding new donors, developing new fundraising ideas and attracting major donations – the same three they reported in last year’s survey.


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