Will There Be a CBO Backlash?

The ‘resilience movement’ considers partnerships between government and community organizations essential to creating disaster resilient communities. And now some states are going to revoke their tax exemptions and levy new fees on them (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/us/28charity.html).

I think PREPostrophiles should examine this policy before supporting it.

Nonprofits are hurting as much as the rest of us in this economy. Meanwhile, local and state governments are turning to them to bear more of the brunt of reduced services.  On top of that, resilience advocates are looking to them to provide disaster-related services that governments cannot and will not provide to make us more resilient. Indeed, the CDC has set out an entire set of capabilities around partnerships. The BayPrep program in San Francisco is defining standards and metrics for local community organizations as disaster resilient. In Los Angeles we are engaging community-based and faith-based organizations more actively towards making our communities disaster resilient. More and more, we see nonprofits like churches and community organizations step up and provide response and relief services during disasters.

Every tax dollar taken from nonprofits will be one less dollar they can spend on services.  These are the very services our most vulnerable communities and at-risk populations need to maintain resilience.  Once the tax-man starts knocking on their doors, I fear these same organizations will have less tolerance for partnering with other government agencies (public health, emergency services) to improve disaster resilience.  We will soon be asking too much from them.  We will feel the backlash in our work.

The essential services they deliver provide the foundation for community resilience in vulnerable communities.  I bet that the dollars they spend in the community are often more effectively and efficiently spent than the dollars government spends in the same places. An ounce of their resilience-building may be worth a pound of government relief.

Instead, I’d like to see a mandate that government contracted nonprofits have a business continuity plan that describes how they will prevent interrupting their functions and get back into the work of providing services to their communities in a disaster.  But that’s a topic for another day.


About David Eisenman

I'm a physician and public health/health services researcher. I want to bring these perspectives to understanding disaster resilience.
This entry was posted in My Soapbox. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Will There Be a CBO Backlash?

  1. Alessa Adamo says:

    We are out here doing our part to continue the good work of BayPrep in San Francisco, stretching dollars beyond any sane expectation. Thanks for the plug for nonprofit work in this field.

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