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Maine Nonprofits Feel the Effect of Federal Government Shutdown

by Jennifer Hutchins

January 25, 2019

Maine Nonprofits Feel the Effect of Federal Government Shutdown

Portland, ME – In an effort to understand the impact of the federal government shutdown, the Maine Association of Nonprofits (MANP) surveyed its member nonprofits from 5:00 p.m. on January 22 to 5:00 p.m. on January 24 and received responses from 54 different organizations. While much of the impact from the federal shutdown is still unknown, charitable nonprofits are expressing concern about its impact on daily operations and their ability to serve Maine residents.

Two-thirds (66%) of respondents reported that they had either a moderate or high level of impact from the federal shutdown. One respondent wrote: “We have seen moderate increase in the numbers of people seeking food and diapers through our pantry; many of them are furloughed or working without pay.” Another wrote: “Call volume is increasing daily from people seeking assistance because other providers have been adversely affected and are unable to help. Impact on our resources at this point is moving from moderate to high.”

Additional findings from MANP’s survey include:
• 38% have already experienced a delay in federal funding.
• 43% are anticipating a delay in federal funding.
• 57% have noticed (or expect) a negative impact on their clients from the shutdown, while another 25% are unsure.

“Despite challenges imposed on Maine nonprofits by the shutdown,” said Jennifer Hutchins, MANP’s Executive Director, “many are doing what they normally do when there’s a community need, serving more with fewer resources. It’s what we do.” Hutchins continued, “But Maine’s nonprofits cannot replace the government, and should not be called on to do so. It’s time this shutdown ends, so that Mainers can get back to work and our charitable nonprofits can turn from this politician-created crisis to address the ongoing needs of our residents.”

The impact of the shutdown on the ability of charitable nonprofits to manage their daily operations is being felt in Maine and across the U.S. “Some of these organizations are forced to take out lines of credit or layoff staff and reduce or eliminate certain services, costs in economic and human terms that will never be recovered even when government operations return to normal,” states the National Council of Nonprofits. “Fortunately we have a bank line of credit in place that we could borrow on if federal funds are further delayed,” wrote one Maine nonprofit, “but that will cost us thousands of dollars in interest that was otherwise an unbudgeted expense.”

The MANP survey showed that the people nonprofits serve are feeling a wide range of effects as well. “Federal employees living in the towns we serve are coming to us for emergency food and budget counseling. Folks who have lost paychecks are seeking food assistance. [Federal] benefits are also going to potentially end, which will have a huge impact for our clients,” wrote one MANP survey respondent. The survey found, further, that the human toll of the shutdown goes beyond furloughed workers to affecting their families as well. “The middle-school-aged girls we work with bring a lot of their family stressors to the program with them and we anticipate needing to guide them through processing this situation,” reported a participant in the survey.
Even in the face of cutbacks, nonprofits in Maine are expanding services or making them available at free or reduced cost to those affected. One Maine nonprofit is allowing furloughed workers to delay paying bills until they receive their back pay and another has “added new hours to accommodate more clients in our food pantry and diaper bank.” In one instance, an art museum has made admission free for furloughed federal employees and their families.


For more information please contact Jennifer Hutchins, MANP Executive Director. or 207-871-1885.

About MANP
Since 1994, MANP has grown to become Maine’s comprehensive resource for the tools, knowledge, and connections nonprofits need to be effective and well-run. With a growing statewide membership of over 900 nonprofit and 150 for-profit organizations, MANP advances the public profile of Maine nonprofits by highlighting their vital contribution to the quality of life in our state, connects people, organizations and resources from all sectors to foster collaborative problem solving, and strengthens nonprofits by providing management training and leadership development programs, resources and services that enhance their community mission impact.

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