Ailing economy threatens non-profit groups

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - As the recession deepens, local non-profit organizations are planning for a dip in donations. If you dig through all 1100 pages of the federal stimulus act, it's doubtful you'll find even one paragraph about what non-profit groups will get. They depend on private donations and the economy threatens to cut those down.

At just 13 years old, Lily Constine lives a life most children her age will never know. Aside from therapy twice a day, she's in the clinic every three months. Doctors there, treat her for cystic fibrosis, which was diagnosed when Lily was just a baby.

Lily and other children benefit from the research done at VCU Medical Center. Research that was funded by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a non-profit, now dealing with economic reality.

"I think every family is having tough times choosing where the best to spend their money," said Dr. H. Joel Schmidt, VCU Children's Medical Center.

It's harder to get donations now. Not that people are less generous. But with jobs and incomes disappearing, sometimes the money just isn't there. For Lily and her mom that's a concern.

"These kids, and young adults now every year have a little bit deterioration in their lung functions. So we can't put a fundraiser off till next year when things are better," said Lily's mother Jinx Constine.

So now the CF foundation, like others, is going back to donors "educating" them about the organization's success.

"Just since Lily was diagnosed, there have been several drugs that have come out that she has now on, that has really helped her quality of life," Jinx said.

The approach is to remind people of the life saving work their dollars do; whether the economy is up, or down.

"I think there will be a cure, I just don't know when," Lily said.

Lily's mom also says, that just in her daughter's lifetime the life expectancy for a cystic fibrosis patient has increased from 32 years to nearly forty, thanks in part to research funded by donations.

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