James H. Lewis, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer and Director of Research and Evaluation for The Chicago Community Trust
Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We spoke with James H. Lewis, Ph.D., Senior Program Officer and Director of Research and Evaluation for The Chicago Community Trust, one of the foundations that helped launch ESC in 1978 and remains a loyal supporter of ESC's work.
 
The Question: "What are the challenges facing nonprofits today?"
As expected, Dr. Lewis feels the main challenge facing Illinois nonprofits is the current budgetary stalemate in Springfield.
 
"The crisis for human services' operating support is the No. 1 challenge. Many Illinois nonprofits which rely upon the State of Illinois have been functioning without contracts since there is not yet an approved 2015-16 state budget. So far, they are stumbling by, but their reserves are getting used up. Some are looking for any kind of emergency infusion of money. Some are considering consolidation or merging. The Chicago Community Trust supports a variety of human service providers but allocating additional resources toward them would risk capsizing funding for the arts or for schools...
 
The Trust is supportive of consolidation and considers that human services in Illinois are nearing the point where for many, consolidation may be the only solution...
 
My advice and concern is: don't keep your struggles a secret. It is understandable if nonprofits are concerned about revealing the problems (generated by this crisis), but that is the wrong tack. Reach out to your funders, share your challenges, and seek advice and help."
 
 

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