Stressed non-profits leaning on volunteers

July 28, 2009 at 10:11 AM
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WASHINGTON, July 28 (UPI) -- Fiscally stressed U.S. non-profit organizations are maintaining their caseloads by leaning heavily on unpaid volunteers, a survey indicated Tuesday.

Eighty percent U.S. non-profit organizations experienced some level of fiscal stress from September to March, research performed by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Johns Hopkins Non-profit Listening Post Project found, with nearly 40 percent of them saying the problems were considered "severe" or "very severe."

To deal with the crisis, nearly a quarter (23 percent) of non-profits reported reducing staff hours, a third reported eliminating staff positions and 40 percent reported postponing the filling of vacancies.

The groups, however, have been able to maintain their caseloads by relying more heavily on unpaid volunteers, the researchers found. Nearly three-fourths of the organizations reported they had maintained or increased the number of people their organizations were serving. Even among groups reporting severe fiscal stress and staff cutbacks, 60 percent indicated they had been able to maintain or increase the number of people their organizations served.

Surveys were distributed to 1,411 non-profit organizations, of which 363 responded, a response rate of 26 percent, the authors said.

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