Policies Impacting the Future of Nonprofit Work

In nonprofits, future sustainability is never guaranteed. We fight for it — by raising money, making tough choices, and relying on government and philanthropic leaders in our community to understand the realities of the individuals and communities we serve.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the funding landscape for housing and childcare organizations like ours, YWCA Columbus, has been a rollercoaster. In 2020 and 2021, the federal government passed six robust relief bills in response to COVID-19. Here in Ohio, the state received $5.4 billion, with another $5.3 billion designated for counties, municipalities, and townships across the state, much of which went to unemployment assistance, public utilities, food assistance, and other economic recovery programs.

Like many nonprofit organizations that provide direct human services to families in Central Ohio, YWCA Columbus utilized the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding we received via the City of Columbus, Franklin County, and State of Ohio to stabilize operations at both our emergency shelter and our permanent, supportive residency for women, as well as our childcare programming.

Fast forward to 2023, and many of the federal programs established for economic assistance to vulnerable families expired — including direct stimulus payments, expanded unemployment benefits, enhanced child tax credits, and the student loan repayment pause.

While the federal funding has all but expired, those in the nonprofit sector know that the needs have not. If anything, they’ve increased.

The number of people experiencing homelessness at a single point in time increased by 22% between 2022 and 2023, according to the Community Shelter Board’s counts. Additionally, in a December 2023 survey of all Human Service Chamber member organizations, 82% reported that they were experiencing higher demand than they had been six months prior (in June 2023), thanks – in part – to high inflation and the absence of pandemic aid, as well as an increasing population in Central Ohio.

While we cannot always predict the next economic challenge that will impact our clients, if we aim to build sustainable operations, we must ensure government funding is more equitable and consistent, regardless of who is elected to office. In a busy election year, this clear call for fairness on behalf of our clients is something all nonprofits can get behind.

Additionally, the YWCA Columbus advocacy agenda calls for:

  • An equitably and fully funded shelter system.
  • Housing stabilization efforts, including sustaining emergency rental assistance support.
  • Increased investments in affordable housing but not to the detriment of the shelter system.
  • Higher eligibility and reimbursement rates under Publicly Funded Childcare (PFCC), in alignment with ideas from Policy Matters Ohio.
  • Expansion of the child tax credit, which is currently being deliberated by Congress.

These policy changes and funding increases at all levels of government would ensure our region’s most vulnerable populations could adequately and consistently access the resources they need for years to come.

By Elizabeth Brown, President and CEO, YWCA Columbus

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