BOSTON – A consortium of philanthropic groups contributing nearly $3.7 million to nonprofits that provide basic winter needs is urging donors to step forward in 2012 to ensure all Massachusetts residents have adequate food, clothing, shelter and fuel. The consortium has grown to 25 members since its formation in December, increasing the overall level of coordinated contributions to $3,685,930.
This is the third year the Commonwealth’s foundation community for the Coordinated Winter Assistance Grantmaking effort, which this year is being supplemented with a website at massneeds.org , where potential donors can find links to donate or volunteer at more than a hundred agencies that are receiving funding from the group. The site also features stories from the nonprofits.
Among the partners committed to the effort are the Boston Foundation, the Eos Foundation and the Highland Street Foundation, who were the founding members of the collaborative. They are joined by the Albert W. Rice Charitable Foundation (Bank of America, N.A., Trustee), the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, the Brookline Community Foundation, the Citizens Bank Foundation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, the Cornerstone Charitable Foundation (Bank of America, N.A., Trustee), Essex County Community Foundation, the Foundation for MetroWest, the Foundation To Be Named Later, the Greater Worcester Community Foundation, the Henry Luce Foundation, the Horace Moses Charitable Foundation (Bank of America, N.A., Trustee), the John W. Boynton Fund (Bank of America, N.A., Trustee), the Klarman Family Foundation, the Linde Family Foundation, the Lucia B. Morrill Charitable Foundation (Bank of America, N.A., Trustee), the Charles Pearson Foundation Fund (Bank of America, N.A., Trustee), the State Street Foundation, United Way of Hampshire County, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley and United Way of Pioneer Valley. Associated Grant Makers played a critical role coordinating the collaborative effort.
“Even after the restoration of some federal heat assistance, the money available to support those in need is well down at a time when energy prices are near record levels,” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “It takes support from throughout the community to ensure that people stay safe, warm and adequately fed this winter.”
The funders are united in their efforts to provide critical support as a way to shine a light on the ongoing need of people throughout Massachusetts that was triggered by the economic crisis.
New reports from many Massachusetts charities confirm the growing demand for their services, but state and federal aid aren’t matching demand. LIHEAP funding for Massachusetts is down 28 percent from last year, while food supplied by the USDA is down 35 percent according to the Greater Boston Food Bank. Meanwhile, heating oil prices hit an all-time high of $4.14 in Massachusetts this week, and food prices were more than 4 percent higher than last year – with staples like dairy and peanut butter among the most impacted.
“Charities are doing everything they can – but the requests are coming in from a wider group,” said Blake Jordan, Executive Director of the Highland Street Foundation. “Nonprofits need help meeting the need they are seeing in communities across the state.”
“Cold weather sometimes reminds us of the great challenges thousands of families face each winter, but need is not weather-dependent,” said Jeffrey Poulos, Executive Director of Associated Grant Makers. “Grantmakers and the organizations we support see this first hand throughout the year, and we count on donors to step forward to help meet the need.”
The winter of 2011-2012 has been notable for a lack of snow, but it comes after a year in which Central and Western Massachusetts, in particular, were devastated by tornadoes, a tropical storm and the freak October snowstorm, which drained resources even before winter’s arrival.
“This coordinated effort is more important than ever given the current economic conditions and the recent weather related challenges affecting the Pioneer Valley,” said Sylvia deHaas Phillips, Sr. Vice President at United Way of Pioneer Valley. “Three devastating weather disasters have made a larger number of people more vulnerable to financial insecurity.”
And even in places that avoided the most serious damage, there are other challenges to face.
“With an overall cost of housing almost 78% higher than the national average, economic difficulties are deeply felt in MetroWest. This winter we are seeing a significant gap between the needs for housing and food assistance and what the Foundation for MetroWest and our donors are able to support.“ Judy Salerno, Executive Director, Foundation for MetroWest.
“Food, fuel and housing are not optional expenses, and rising prices in any one of them can devastate a family budget,” said Andrea Silbert, President of the Eos Foundation. “As we continue to see families who need assistance for their basic needs, it’s critical that we all do what we can to ease the financial burdens of those in the greatest need.”
The list will continue to grow as the number of supporting organizations grows over the course of the winter. The collaborative will regularly update the list and provide links for consumers to learn more about the funding partners and the supported organizations at massneeds.org .