ProSpeak: Adjusting to the New Face of Need
Not since the Great Depression has our nation experienced such a wide distribution of need throughout all socio-economic levels. It started out as a snowball at the top of the mountain with the subprime mortgage debacle. But as it continues to make its way down a steep slope, millions of Americans are getting swept up into what amounts to nothing less than an avalanche of personal destruction. Many, through no fault of their own, are losing their jobs, and as a result, are losing their homes, health care, life savings, sense of self respect and more.
These are folks who once felt secure believing they were firmly ensconced in the middle class. Many never before in their lives have had to ask for help from anyone.
But nonprofits are seeing changes in the demographics of those seeking their services.
Several of my community development organization clients who focus on affordable housing and community revitalization issues are reporting that people who once drove up with their families in BMWs and Audis to volunteer for neighborhood clean-up days are now knocking on the doors of these very same nonprofits to seek assistance with mortgage workouts or foreclosure proceedings.
Nonprofit-run thrift stores are finding more "upscale" shoppers purchasing their used goods, and former thrift shop donors are now selling their used items on eBay or at yard sales to earn extra cash.
A friend who volunteers at a soup kitchen says that not only are the numbers of those seeking a hot meal up, but more women and children are waiting in line to be fed.
From housing to food banks to health care, the story is the same. What does this mean for nonprofits accustomed to serving predominantly low- and moderate-income people? Quite a bit, actually. Given this shift in demographic need, here are a few things to consider: