Nonprofits must brace for hard times

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Every natural disaster has its obvious victims — those who lose their lives, their homes, perhaps their businesses or their jobs. We’re seeing that now with the Waldo Canyon fire, which has stabbed the Colorado Springs area in any number of ways.

And those wounds will continue to surface in the weeks and months ahead, even far away from the sections of town directly affected by the fire itself.

Already, we’ve seen how the catastrophic damage has brought out the best in our city and region. Every day we’ve heard new stories of amazing generosity, whether it’s in the form of cash donations, throwing together fundraiser events, packing the World Arena or flooding a website to purchase T-shirts, as you can read in this issue of the Business Journal.

But even as we share the pride that comes from a united community digging down deep to help each other, others are bracing for their own form of suffering that’s likely unavoidable.

We’re talking about the city’s hundreds of nonprofits, especially those who provide vital services to the less fortunate but who weren’t impacted in direct ways by the Waldo Canyon fire.

Those nonprofits realize that the public’s philanthropic kindness, when it’s stretched as thin as we’re experiencing now, inevitably will reach its limits. And when that happens, many everyday people and businesses won’t have anything left to support even the nonprofits they have known and helped for years.

You don’t hear those agencies crying out for help now, because they understand how essential the fire relief efforts truly are. But the time inevitably will arrive when many of those nonprofits, though untouched by the fire, will become residual victims. In all likelihood, their annual fundraising drives will fall short of past years, and that likely will bring negative consequences.

The message here is this: Just as we are hearing encouragement all around us to venture out and patronize our local businesses, especially those impacted by the fire, the same thought will apply down the line for our charitable causes.

Everyone should remember that, especially those nonprofits that you have helped or donated to on a personal level. Even if we’ve pushed our benevolence to the max, we must remember to save what we can for those still-important causes that can’t stop depending on us during this difficult time.

That’s a different kind of challenge for the community, but it’s just as crucial to our collective future as we recover and rebuild from the Waldo Canyon fire.