Many of the area's nonprofits run at a deficit each year.
For organizations that rely on outside funding in order to run, with the economy the way it is, money can be tight, which in turn can affect their value to the community.
In 2010, Robert H. Jackson Center ended its year with a $135,776 deficit. Lucille Ball Little Theater ran losses of $44,333. The Audubon Society ran a $89,158 deficit, while the Fenton History Center had a $24,500 loss. The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center's deficit came in at $59,060, and the Reg Lenna Civic Center's deficit was $204,912.
Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center
Operates The Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center for Comedy &?Produces the annual LucyFest.
"In the business plan of a nonprofit, there is a gap," said Joni Blackman, executive director of the Fenton Historical Society. "People don't understand that there is a design gap between income and expense for a nonprofit. That gap has to be filled by donations. And, that gap is filled also by in-kind donations, donations of materials. But, there has to be a fundraising component in there, or no nonprofit survives."
A nonprofit is categorized as such because any money it makes goes right back into the organization. The money does not financially benefit any of the organization's shareholders or trustees.
"With the downturn in the economy since 2008, there are a lot of not-for-profits that are struggling. But, they are also being very creative about how to do more with less," said Debra Pacos, development coordinator for the Robert H. Jackson Center.
The Robert H. Jackson Center isn't the only area nonprofit struggling for funding. According to Dr. Anton Leenders, CEO and president of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the bulk of the institute's income is foundation aid and grants.
"We did take a big hit in the last few years. The whole operation has been trimmed down in a very painful manner, as far as I know. But, we have a stellar crew right here, who is very capable of keeping the place alive," Leenders said.
Many of the rough times that the Roger Tory Peterson Institute experienced were due to factors other than the economy as well.
"A lot of the really tough times at the institute - the passing of Roger Tory Peterson, the split of the estate - it just was a huge resource drain, financially and with human resources," Leenders said.
Additionally, the Fenton Historical Society is extremely dependent on donations, grants and foundation aid. The Fenton has an operating budget of $150,000 a year, $90,000 of which goes to payroll.
"We don't have a widget we can sell. We can't make more widgets. We are what we are. We have to have donors. A lot of people don't understand that," said Joni Blackman, executive director of the Fenton Historical Society. "A lot of places do depend on grants for their programming income."
Not everyone operates at a yearly deficit, though. The Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation had a surplus of $96,595 in 2009, and a surplus of $64,506 in 2010.
"I think people are under the impression that when a nonprofit gets to the end of the year, the money should be all used up," said Lee Harkness, DJDC executive director. "I've never subscribed to that, I've always tried to, at the end of the year, have some money left over. So, if you have something happen or something comes up, then you've got the ways and means to handle that."
The Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation isn't immune from seeking outside funding, though.
"We rely on foundation funding," Harkness said. "The Gebbie Foundation is our biggest funder. But, we also have membership. About 11 percent of our funding is from membership."
More than $10 million annually is put back into the community by local foundations, which include the Sheldon, Gebbie and Lenna foundations, among others.
"The private foundations in the area are very lucky in that there were some very wealthy families, who cared very much for the community, and decided to leave dollars behind," said John Merino, chief executive officer of the Gebbie Foundation. "Through wise investments and management, it grew to really be substantial fortunes. It has benefited the community immensely."
The Gebbie Foundation began with roughly $10 million in the 1950s. The foundation was formally incorporated in the 1960s, when it began growing to be worth more money. At one point, the Gebbie Foundation had a net worth of nearly $90 million, although it no longer has that worth.
Foundations are required by the IRS to give at least 5 percent of their net worth back into the community. The Gebbie Foundation gives $3.5 million annually. A few years ago, with the turn in the economy, it has gone down to $3 million, but in recent years, that number has returned to $3.5 million.
"We kept giving at relatively the same level that we'd always given at. It will take us a few years to make up what we lost at that juncture, as I'm sure all of the foundations are going through the same issue," Merino said.
LOOKING FOR A TURNAROUND
Just as the Gebbie Foundation is looking to make a turnaround out of a bad economy, so are nonprofits. Some are already finding that donations have increased.
"We're very much poised to just crawl out of the hole. And, we are already. We've gotten some incredibly positive responses from foundations recently. We've been receiving some very generous donations and some great grant support," Leenders said. "It's a great atmosphere right now. Everybody's got 'the sky's the limit' attitude, which is exactly what we're going to go with. There is so much potential here, it's not even funny."
Aside from foundations, grants and donations, many nonprofits are in desperate need of volunteers in order to continue operating.
"Jamestown's small. It's got wonderful things here. But, it doesn't have the income that it used to have," Blackman said. "People have to find what they're passionate about and do it, whether its donating time or money. Either one is a fantastic thing. We have a lot of generous people here in town."
In looking at nonprofits, Merino encourages the community to look at the bottom line in donating or volunteering.
"When you have quality organizations, particularly nonprofits, the bottom line is the benefit that they bring to the community," Merino said. "Their mission is their bottom line. If their mission is accomplished, then that's as powerful as private industry making $1 million by selling their widgets every year."