Charities still facing economic obstacles in giving

By: Conroy Delouche Email
By: Conroy Delouche Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - When people need help, charities are usually there for them.

But in this challenging economy, even charities need a helping hand.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy just released its top ten fund-raising charities. It contains familiar names like the United Way, the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.

Some charities are receiving the same amount, if not more, than they were a few years ago. But the problem is the number of people they are serving is also increasing.

Number two on the list is the Salvation Army. It received close to $2 billion in private donations.

The local chapter in Knoxville got about $2 million last year, about the same as 2009.

"It certainly hasn't kept up with the cost of helping people, and it certainly not kept up with the number of people coming to us and asking for assistance," said Major Don Vick with the Salvation Army.

Vick says requests for help are 30% higher, and it's getting harder to answer every call.

"It's a whole new ballgame for us, we've had record amounts of new clients this year," said Vick.

"We're being asked to do a whole lot more without more resources," said Angie Sledge, the Vice President of Development for Knoxville Area Rescue Ministries.

Sledge says donations have stalled at $4.5 million a year.

"We did not plan for any kind of budget increases this year or last year. You just don't do that when there's 9% unemployment," said Sledge.

She says many people who walk in the door never thought they'd be there.

That's the same with donations. Giving folks now barely able to support themselves.

"We had a lot of people who were used to making regular donations to KARM who were now writing us notes apologizing," said Sledge.

So she says KARM had to get conservative and creative to stay open 24/7.
For example, they turned their culinary school into a catering company.

"The profits from the catering business go directly into KARM and help our KUB bill. The same time, it's putting people back to work and creating jobs," said Sledge.

Vick says the Salvation Army is number two because it is such a wide-spread organization that is nationally trusted. He says in penny-pinching times, people usually only give to organizations they know.


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