This week I happened to observe a discussion on the issue of human trafficking and one of the important topics tackled was the specific needs that should be addressed in order for the anti human trafficking movement to be more effective and successful. The usual suspects, such as quality and quantity of personnel, monetary and other resources, increased cooperation between various systems, were certainly mentioned, but what stood out for me was the statement made by one of the participants about the competition between different non-profit organizations and/or victim service providers in terms of funds. It appears that not only are financial resources limited, but gaining access to those available often results in a battle between diverse providers interested in being able to continue doing their valuable work.
Now this is what I refer to as a mighty big problem. Those dedicated to serving individuals in need struggle to secure the funds required to achieve that goal and find themselves not only against the many who dismiss the task of providing social services, but also against organizations that actively participate in providing social services. During a time of economic difficulties, then, the term funding games becomes particularly relevant. In the recent recession, for example, while the number of those in need of services has increased, in some cases significantly, the funds available to organizations and agencies providing services have been drastically reduced. According to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative [NRC], a survey of the nonprofit sector reveals the difficulties many organizations, specifically smaller entities, face in 2012 and expect to face in years to come. Further, the NRC’s findings highlight that both government funding and individual donations are declining, a fact that contributes to the already multitude of obstacles faced by the non-profit sphere. To read the report in its entirety, please click here.
While the capitalist atmosphere we live in regards competition as healthy and fostering creativity, when it comes to the non-profit sector, competition for funds could easily end up being detrimental to reaching a common goal. A particularly negative impact of the fight for funds could be the emergence of some organizations as the “leaders” and best source available and others as the “not-good-enough” and undeserving of financial assistance. If the “leaders” so happen to be in largely urban and rich in resources areas, then the only significant outcome of the funding games would be the cutback of critical services in areas with limited access to services to begin with. Tough luck, I guess, for those in need and at the wrong geographical location. Survival of those with the funds it is.