Hard Times For Non-Profits

Growing demands on our money mean that BC’s non-profit sector is experiencing hard times. 

 The television ads are relentless. And they’re relentlessly depressing. 
 A local celebrity, usually Sarah McLachlan, comes on and over a series of shots of abused,  abandoned, or starved animals makes a fervent pitch for donations to the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). By the end of it, you want to, if not reach for your chequebook, at least go out and hang whoever would treat our poor pets in that way.    
We’ve all seen them. And we’re all affected, whether we like animals or not. 
 But apparently we’re not being affected quite enough, because the SPCA, like most other non-profit organizations is increasingly desperate for money.
 Presumably, government cutbacks and the lingering effects of the recession have cut into their budgets in a big way. 
 Then, recently, there was a news item about the finding of a box of newly-born kittens left beside a Burnaby highway by owners who pleaded they couldn’t afford the SPCA “surrender fee”. Apparently the animal rescue group now charges people who drop off unwanted dogs or cats $50-$75.
 I can’t say as I blame them. After all, they do run an operation whose scope has enlarged considerably in recent years as pets have become more of a factor in most homes.
But I can’t help but wonder about how the societ, and many other non-profits are being forced into this kind of begging and charging. I know 50 bucks an animal isn’t a lot, but I’m sure for some people it is, especially if they’re “surrendering” a litter of kittens.
And sure they’re probably irresponsible in that they didn’t have their cat spayed. But they probably couldn’t afford that either.
Like the SPCA, most non-profits deliver services to society’s most marginal people, and there are more of them these days than there used to be. For example, anyone trying to find housing in this region is being marginalized considerably. 
When your mortgage or rent is 50-75% of your income, you’re marginalized, even if you don’t think of yourself as such. 
Taxes and government user fees are also increasing because governments need more money.
When these kind of financial demands increase, you pull back on other things, particularly the unmentioned responsibilities that come with living in a society. I know I have, despite an increasing number of calls from worthy causes.
 I suspect most of you have as well. It’s an easy financial cut to make because it’s essentially anonymous and you aren’t really aware of the effects. 
But when we all do it, the effects are far reaching. And we’re starting to see some of them on the non-profit sector. When times get hard, the hardest hit are the non-profits. 
I suspect the SPCA’s problems are the tip of the iceberg. We can expect to see more hard times for non-profits in the future unless we come up with a solution for this hidden problem.