Non-profits also hurting in poor economy

By Jon Kalahar - email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi has more than 12,000 non-profit organizations in the state. And with the economy in a recession, many are hurting because charitable giving is down.

"Some non-profits are closing their doors, some are seeing their contributions falling by over half, some are holding on for dear life," said Mark McCrary, Executive Director of the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits.

Now, more than ever, unemployed Mississippians are turning to non-profits for help filling the gaps until another job comes along.

"A lot of that challenge will be met by non-profits where the government can't make up that dollar. So non-profits are critical in a time like Mississippi is facing right now," said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Picayune non-profit Manna Ministries provides a number of services for low income and out of work citizens in Mississippi and Louisiana.

"It's all about trying to help people in need," said Jamie Martin, Executive Director of Manna Ministries.

Martin's group provides food and clothing, as well as rental and utility assistance. Because money is so tight for just about everyone, they will accept almost anything they believe will help.

"We pretty much take anything cause I can always find someone who needs it," said Martin.

Non-profits that aren't "immediate need organizations" are having even more problems. The Mississippi Council of Economic Education has already cut costs at every turn.

"We're turning to grant support right now for new dollars. Our previous funders are saying, 'We're with you, but we're having a hard time. Come back to us in a few months,'" said Dr. Pam Smith with the Mississippi Council on Economic Education.

Secretary of State Hosemann said despite the poor economy, Mississippi is the most generous state per capita per income in the nation. State lawmakers are currently considering a bill that would allow donors to see exactly how much money each non-profit uses for its charitable purpose.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.