Thingish Things

Non-profit Warnings

Written By: William F. B. O'Reilly - May• 12•11

I caught a whoopin’ in early February from friends in the not-for-profit industry upset with a warning I wrote for non-profits receiving government funding. Make alternate plans for grants in the future, I advised, if you don’t provide essential — truly essential — services.

That was no great insight on my part.  Anyone who works around government knows how bad the fiscal situation is. But my words were interpreted as an attack on the not-for-profit industry, when none was intended.

In this morning’s New York Times, Michael Cooper reports that cities and states not only are reducing not-for-profit budget lines, they are now asking land-holding non-profits like hospitals, universities, and museums to voluntarily pay property taxes, where none are legally due.

It’s a double whammy for institutions struggling to keep their doors open. And it’s going to get worse.

The current state budget gaps have more to do with this recession than with the structural funding problems states face. It’s the pension debt that’s the real killer, and that will get worse every year for a long while with demographic certainty. More and more pubic servants with pregnant public pensions will be retiring each year, with fewer taxpayers available to pay their freight. Something has to give, and it’s going to be  discretionary spending. That is not opinion; it is an absolute certainty.

It is equally certain that governments asking for voluntary contributions from non-for-profits today will be demanding them tomorrow. The symbiotic relationship between the not-for-profit community and government is about to get strained, indeed.

There are approximately three million not-for-profit corporations in America today. I would wager there will be half that many in 2025.

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


  1. Your Friend says:

    Sadly, I think you’re dead right on this. My vote is for taxing religion. I don’t see a whole lot of difference between going to church and going to a basebal game. In both cases, you sit and watch people perform and cheer for something you believe in. Can you imagine the Mets being a tax-free organization?

  2. […] free for decades.   They have to.  Governments are broke and getting broker by the day.  These institutions also are being asked to voluntarily pay things like property taxes, which their governments, in all their […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.