Bipartisan budget agreement a boon for charity fundraising

Nonprofits in the U.S. might be feeling relieved about the federal budget accord recently reached by Democrats and Republicans.

The agreement is the first bipartisan budget put together by Congress in decades and will normalize the process of nonprofits requesting federal funding, according to industry source The NonProfit Times. The deal also takes a possible second government shutdown in January off the table, meaning U.S. nonprofits won't be facing a sudden rush of people who need assistance due to government services scaling back.

No guarantees but more opportunities
The budget agreement doesn't automatically provide extra funding for nonprofits. However, the return to normalcy in governmental processes will help those seeking federal money have access to legislators as well as a platform to address them.

"You can't overstate the importance of the budget deal as a first step in Congress getting back to the normal funding process," Steve Taylor, the United Way Worldwide's senior public policy vice president, told The NonProfit Times. "While sequestration has been devastating for important social service programs, the fact that the process was so broken limited our ability to be able to advocate for programs that really worked well."

The return of business-as-usual in the House and Senate means nonprofits with federal funding can promote specific programs and ventures that have been particularly successful, instead of having to deal with a shuttered government and inflexible budget cuts across all departments.

The changing grant landscape
Government and private grants are important components of raising money for charity and helping nonprofits succeed. More charitable organizations received a grant in the first half of 2013 than the same period in 2012, The NonProfit Times reported. The information on grants, extrapolated from a survey conducted by GrantStation and PhilanTech, reveals that 81 percent of nonprofits that responded to the survey were awarded at least one grant in the beginning of 2013.

Private foundations provided slightly more grants in 2013 than 2012, accounting for 28 percent of awards given. Local, state and federal governments all reduced their charitable contributions, which may be partially due to the sequester. Charitable organizations that received government funding were more likely to report that reduced monies were the biggest problem for their operations, with 17 percent of such groups making that statement. Only 5 percent of nonprofits that don't have government grants said reduced funding was a major issue.

The report indicated that two continuing problems for nonprofits of all sizes are the lack of staff dedicated to and the lack of staff time used to seek public and private grants. 

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