Non-Profits remain optimistic

By Kathryn M. Roy
Special to the Hartford Business Journal

Even as the economy continues its slow recovery, many Hartford-area non-profit organizations have a renewed sense of optimism, according to the United Way’s eighth annual Non-Profit Pulse Survey.

While many organizations have developed creative ways to do more with less, concerns linger over public sector funding, increased demand for services and general uncertainty over the future.

Susan Dunn, president and CEO of the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut, said she was surprised by the increase in optimism from those surveyed.

“(Optimism increased) from 53 percent to 66 percent,” Dunn said. “While things haven’t gotten dramatically worse, they have not gotten better. (Some respondents were) optimistic around individual and corporate and foundation revenue, but those aren’t major funding sources for them.”

Eighty-two area non-profit organizations — of 366 non-profits sent the survey in late August — participated. Half of the respondents are funded United Way partners.

This year’s survey reflects a three-year uptrend in optimism, following the dramatic drop to 35 percent reported in 2008.

Donna Taglianetti, executive director of Co-Opportunity, a Hartford non-profit focusing on housing and community economic development initiatives, said she thinks the reality of the economic downturn has set in for many organizations.

“I think people are a little less shell-shocked,” Taglianetti said. “We have fared pretty well financially, but we’re starting to feel the hit on federal grants. We have looked at this 40 different ways. We’ve done all sorts of scenario planning and we’re confident we’ll make it through; we’re pretty optimistic as a group.”

Dunn said in general, she believes people that work in the nonprofit sector are more optimistic by nature.

“You believe you can make change,” she said. “I’m making a broad generalization, but you believe you can change others and you can change conditions for the better.”

Optimism notwithstanding, many respondents reported being worried about funding… Read More.