Even if the White House and Congress reach agreements soon on the government shutdown and the debit limit, the debacle has already taken a toll on many nonprofits that depend on federal funding.
This week, for example, the federal Women, Infants and Children food program was set to start cutting off food to low-income mothers and children, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
United Way Association of South Carolina president Timothy Ervolina told The Chronicle that the $100 million allocated to the WIC program in his state had run out. Even if the 28 local United Way offices spent all the money they raised — some $60 million — the organization could not meet that need, he said.
Other nonprofits that receive federal funds to deliver social services were also affected. Donors sometimes took up the slack.
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The Fisher House Foundation stepped in to replace $100,000 in federal death benefits for military families, and another 1,200 people pledged $160,000 to support those families, The Chronicle reported.
In another expression of generosity, the philanthropists Laura and John Arnold came to the rescue of Head Start programs in six states, some of which had had to close because grants usually issued Oct. 1 were not forthcoming. If funding is restored, the Arnolds’ $10 million donation will be considered a no-interest loan and be repaid by the state programs, The New York Times reported.
Philanthropists often increase their charitable giving in times of crisis. In the current situation, however, a majority of nonprofits don’t have large donors who can cover their shortfalls.