Thursday, February 7, 2013

Coming Back Into View....

It's been quite a while since I posted anything. You may not have felt you were missing anything, but I have been the worse for not writing.

For the past six and a half months I've been working at Fish Emergency Service in Portland. Fish provides food boxes, clothing, household and personal hygiene items for people in economic crisis. It's mostly been a good experience. I've met many people who genuinely care and honestly try. Fish has an amazing number of donors who are extremely generous. What could be better?

My work here has been in connection with the Executive Transition Service of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon. One issue of concern to anyone in the nonprofit sector, including funders, is the proliferation of nonprofits. There are thousands in Oregon, and wherever you live as well. For some time now I have felt that the reason we have so many nonprofits is that we have systematically dismantled the social service safety net that was once provided by public (read "government") entities. The nation has decided at the ballot box that we don't want to pay taxes to support those in need. Such work should be the responsibility of churches and charities.

Churches and charities have no taxing authority. All they can do is vie with one another to attract the attention of donors. Then vie again. Send another appeal. And another.

Individual donors, businesses, and granting organizations all worry about duplication of services, waste of resources, the amount of money spent on administration and fundraising. Those working for agencies like Fish struggle with the enormity of the task, and the small bandaids we can afford to apply to society's gaping wounds.

Well, friends, all of this goes with the territory. We made this bed, and now will have to lie in it. Unless we're among those with no job, no health insurance, no transportation, no kitchen, no bed....

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