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Connecticut's community nonprofits call for more state funding to improve services and wages

Gian-Carl Casa
Jessica Hill
Associated Press
Gian-Carl Casa, CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance

Community nonprofits have asked the state General Assembly for a long-term funding plan to help meet increased demands for services across Connecticut. A surveyreleased on Tuesday revealed one-in-five nonprofits in Connecticut have financial troubles, with over 36% unable to serve every community that needs support.

Gian-Carl Casa, CEO of the Connecticut Community Nonprofit Alliance, which authored the survey of nearly 270 organizations, said Connecticut needs to help ensure nonprofits have the funding and resources to stay in business, especially those with state contracts.

“Connecticut’s future quality of life depends on maintaining and improving these programs and services today. If we are indeed concerned about issues like crime and public safety, mental health services, jobs and the economy and our cities the state should properly fund community nonprofits,” Casa said.

The alliance wants the state General Assembly to restore at least $460 million in buying power that community nonprofits lost to inflation. That would mean an 8% increase in funding for fiscal year 2023.

Casa said this will help the sector respond to the changing landscape as they enter the third year of the pandemic.

Last June, Governor Ned Lamont signed a two-year budget, which was meant to support nonprofit health and human service providers through $50 million in surplus funds along with another $30 million in fiscal year 2022 and 2023 that will be matched with $30 million in federal funds. Six months later, many organizations said they are still waiting for the state’s budget office to release the funds to their programs.

Casa said he feels confident in the state appropriations committee to make their recommendations to include nonprofit funding this legislative session.

Anne Yurasek with Fio Partners, which co-authored the report, said the survey shows that the issues nonprofits face are significant.

“It’s clear that the staffing challenges, rising and recurring costs, increases in demands for services will really require increased public funding to sustain the sector and its vital services,” Yurasek said.

Results from the survey show if the alliance were able to secure at least $460 million in state funding in the next fiscal year, over 60% of larger nonprofits would be able to fill more positions, and serve more people.

Spencer Cain, the alliance’s budget consultant with Cain Associates, said the state has a budget surplus of over $6.4 billion that could be used on helping nonprofits.

“If not now, when? We’re in the best fiscal position I've ever seen. We’ve been devastated by inflation for the last 15 years, and the need is tremendous,” Cain said.

The survey found close to 40% of larger nonprofits are straining to meet demand, or can no longer serve everyone who comes to them. Only a quarter can comfortably meet demands.

Clare is a former news fellow with WSHU Public Radio.