Non-profits see higher demand, need in 2011

December 30, 2011 7:07:19 PM PST
Non-profits struggled in 2011 as the number of people needing assistance surged. That has organizations like Goodwill trying out new strategies to garner more help.

For Goodwill stores around the Bay Area, this is the busiest time of the year. Many people are donating to try to get the year-end tax credit, and charities say they will take whatever they can get.

At the San Francisco Food Bank, there was celebration as 10,000 pounds of food and $40,000 arrived in time to feed the hungry.

"There are many hungry people out there," said Alicia Rockwell with Lucky Supermarkets. "As a grocer, this is a direct connection for us. We need to make sure everybody receives wholesome food."

It is a welcomed sight after what is a tough year. Thirty-three million pounds of food went out two years ago to feed hungry families; that number jumped to 45 million this year.

"We're working twice as hard to cover the same ground," said Paul Ash with the San Francisco Food Bank. "We have to appeal to people and appeal to them again."

The United Way has had its share of challenges too in 2011.

"Like a lot of non-profits, we've had to tighten our belts," said Lorne Needle. "We have had some staff cuts. We have had some cuts in other areas."

Its efforts to find people jobs jumped from 2,000 to 4,000 in one year. To survive the tough times, many non-profits are launching new strategies, using social media and email to reach out for help.

"I've received a lot more asks this year, if that makes sense," one donor said. "I've seen a lot more emails and communications from charities that are in need."

For the food bank, it's working. They will meet year-end goals, but just barely.

"We're still serving at high levels, but we're really hopeful that things will improve," Ash said.

Non-profits also see hope in marketing to young people. Goodwill now teams up with the Boys and Girls Club as kids host clothing drives.

"Their students are learning about marketing and they're learning how to reach out and do a campaign in their community," said Michael Bongiorini with Goodwill.

Non-profits are slightly optimistic about the upcoming year, but they know they're going to have to continue those strategies using social media and partnering with other organizations to help carry the load.

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