Local nonprofits in Raleigh today to learn about upcoming budget
January 19, 2011By By Amber Hughes
At least two Wilmington-area nonprofit groups sent representatives to Raleigh today to discuss the budget and to prepare for the 2011 legislative session. Elderhaus, the N.C. School Community Health Alliance and N.C. Coastal Land Trust sent representatives to the statewide meeting.
The nonprofit leaders received training on working with legislators and advocating for their causes. They also learned about state rules and requirements for lobbying. United Way of North Carolina and N.C. Budget and Tax Center presented an update on the state budget.
Elderhaus, an adult daycare center in Wilmington, sent CFO Larry Reinhart to the meeting. He said that this morning’s sessions focused on how to work with legislators, and the afternoon meetings were mainly on budget information.
“It was interesting to learn that 10 percent of total employment in North Carolina comes from nonprofits,” Reinhart said. “Nonprofits provide much needed services and employment.”
Linda Pearce, CEO of Elderhaus, said that the company sent Reinhart to the meeting because she wants to know how things will be done differently this year because of the $3.7 billion budget shortfall.
“We wanted to send someone so we would know how to navigate the waters,” Pearce said. “We also want to know the ropes and understand how to approach legislators.”
The N.C. Coastal Land Trust sent two representatives to the meeting, Cassie Gavin from the Wilmington office and Janice Allen from the New Bern office. Camilla Herlevich, executive director for Coastal Land Trust, said that the group is most interested in learning more about the budget problems. The nonprofit’s flagship project is working with the Marine Corps and Navy to conserve lands on bases such as Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point.
“In the past, we’ve used the Clean Water Management Trust Fund,” Herlevich said. “So, we want to know exactly what the budget will be like this year. We’re also interested in getting advice from the meeting about how realistic we need to be.”
The N.C. Coastal Land Trust also wants to bring more jobs to Eastern North Carolina, which was another topic discussed in Raleigh today. Because of the state cuts and contracting problems, many nonprofits have been forced to downsize staff and reduce salaries and benefits. When the nonprofits have nothing left to cut internally, they have to reduce their level of service, which one-third of North Carolina nonprofits have had to do this year.
“What may be less obvious is that nonprofits’ struggles affect the quality of life for all North Carolinians, not just those who rely on the social safety net,” said David Heinen, director of public policy and advocacy with the N.C. Center for Nonprofits in a press release. “As support for nonprofits wanes, children, seniors, low-income families, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, and others who rely on their services can’t get the level of care they need.”