Seniors Lose When Nonprofits Close
In San Diego we all lose when a nonprofit organization serving seniors closes. For those in the field of aging we know when a nonprofit closes it means a lack of funding. It never means services are no longer needed. This week the National Institute on Retirement Security reported “Women more likely than men to face poverty during retirement.” The statistics are alarming, “women are 80 percent more likely than men to be impoverished at age 65 and older. Women age 75 to 79 are three times more likely.”
Food and Transportation Lose Out
In June ITNGreaterSanDiego who provided 5,000 rides in the past three years closed its doors. The Angel’s Depot operating for ten years, provided over 83,585 “Senior Emergency Meal Boxes” containing food to make almost 2 million meals for seniors also closed their doors. Both cited a lack of funding to continue their work. We have a need for both organizations Yet there is no automatic funding resource.
What Boomers and Millennials Have In Common
As a gerontologist and entrepreneur I know there is not a single solution for serving the growing needs of seniors. Aging, poverty, and grant funding for organizations are all complex issues. I do know accepting the status quo will not serve this generation nor the next generation. Yes, the Millennials laden with student loans and stalled careers will be older one day too. Numbering 75 million they too will need help as they age.
What’s the Problem?
Nonprofits in the aging space have the deck stacked against them from the beginning. Grants are almost always competitive based. Each organization must apply for funding and compete with others for a part of the funds. This is where it gets interesting. A nonprofit may be the sole provider of a service such as transportation or food. If their application is not funded they cease operation. No one steps into the gap to fulfill a service or provide funding. No one. Their clients are often referred to a secondary provider which may not be able to assist them. The client falls through the crack.
Solutions For Seniors
People often ask “to pick my brains.” I offer an initial free consultation and then charge for my services. Similar to an accountant, mechanic, or a barber I sell my unique expertise. I believe nonprofits have an opportunity and must look to their clients as part of the solution for funding. Data and data collection might be the answer to bolster budgets. Their expertise. Every nonprofit becomes a professional in their niche from logistics to service delivery these individuals have a mission to serve what they need is a margin. So the next someone running a nonprofit serving seniors asks for a contribution, donate. Then ask them what they are able to sell to extend the reach of your donation.
My best wishes to the folks who worked so hard at ITNGreaterSanDiego and The Angel’s Depot.
Judi Bonilla is the Director of Program Innovation at Advocates For Aging. Previously she was a fellow for Hispanic In Philanthropy and Senior Service America, Inc. Bonilla has spoken at South by Southwest (SXSW) the American Society on Aging, and Certified Senior Advisors conferences. She has received a Special Commendation from the City of San Diego for the inaugural Older Driver Awareness Week in San Diego, the Jack Gorelick Achievement Award for her passionate commitment and perseverance to the growth of the profession of travel instruction from the Association of Travel Instruction and the Innovative Transportation Solutions Award from Women In Transportation.