Bauer Business Focus

Angela Seaworth On How The Oil Bust Is Affecting Houston Nonprofits

Charities count on end-of-year donations for much of their budget.

Bauer Angela Seaworth
Angela Seaworth, Director, Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, Rice University

The bell-ringing Santa with his kettle may be one of the most enduring images of the holiday season. But the Salvation Army is hardly the only charity that depends on end-of-year donations.  Angela Seaworth heads the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Rice University. She joins Andrew Schneider on this week’s Bauer Business Focus.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

How is the downturn in Houston’s economy affecting nonprofits?

“We see an increased demand, particularly for the organizations in the health and human services subsector, where we’re trying to really help people meet their basic needs. But at the same time, as people are being displaced from their jobs, we see pledges that are either being cancelled or…rescheduled.”

What are they doing to cut expenses as they’re being squeezed from those two directions?

“Just like everyone else, they have to start prioritizing what really matters…Professional development and training, that’s cut. They don’t enter into as many marketing exercises as they normally would…because that’s an area that’s considered almost extravagant at this point…We haven’t had reports of a large number of layoffs. We have had some people talk with us about that, but typically, when we’re having to provide more services, that’s not a time for nonprofits to really shed staff members and program officers who are providing service.”

How important is this time of year in particular for nonprofits’ fundraising efforts?

“Eighty percent of giving comes from individuals [rather than corporate underwriters], so people are thinking about it, but this time of the year, their generosity is heightened. [New Year’s Eve is also the cutoff date for making charitable donations that can be deducted from that year’s taxes]…From Thanksgiving until the end of the year is the time that the most donations are given. The second time of year is in April — oddly enough right after taxes are due, when people think, ‘I wish I had a few more deductions there.’”

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Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas Legislature and county and city governments across Greater Houston. Before taking up his current post, Andrew spent five years as Houston Public Media’s business reporter, covering the oil...

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