Nonprofits have felt the strain of the shrinking economy, as we are all aware. And usually such stresses are felt with a curtailment in giving and/or the trimming of services. Of course the ripple effect to those most needing the work of the given nonprofits and charities are perhaps the most troublesome results. Nevertheless, we have come across two sad news stories concerning charity groups who must deal with stresses of different magnitudes caused by different crises.
Angel Food Ministries, whose headquarters is in Atlanta, Georgia, specializes in making deals with regional supermarkets to sell food to the poor at a notably reduced price. Unfortunately, the costs of the effort have forced the ministry to Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Spokesman Juda Engelmayer said increased costs in shipping food around the country helped drive the layoffs. The organization cannot control those costs, Engelmayer said. “The only thing that we can control is what is going on in Monroe.”by almost 1/5th, according to the
But as the Journal-Courrier also reports, Angel Food Ministries had been the subject of an FBI investigation in 2009 that turned up nothing illegal, but did call into question the $500,000+ that the Wingo family (founders of AFM) were drawing as pay from the charity that sells ‘boxes’ of food worth about $50 for about $30 to needy families.
More tragic still: the Co-Founder and volunteer-Treasurer of Life Connection Foundation of Eugene, Oregon killed himself on 2 June after the foundation grew suspicious of a good deal of missing money. The Eugene Register-Guard has since discovered that indeed Dennis Solin had embezzled over $1 million from the company over the last few years. His family were apparently unawares of his activities, and he had claimed initially that he needed time away from family and the foundation to recoup his health. During his twenty-day ‘disappearance,’ he wrote a full confession to his family of the crimes and then committed suicide soon after the foundation contacted him to come to a meeting to discuss the missing money.
Such sadness arises from specific problems in specific places, and one need not/should not burden these tragic events with any larger trends. But they are nevertheless reminders of the pressures that nonprofits and their benefactors might endure in the present economic situation. We hope not to have to convey similar news again for some time.