Albuquerque area nonprofits and community members gathered for a panel discussion moderated by U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, examining the local nonprofit sector’s community impact Tuesday, August 13 at the Impact & Coffee event hosted at Explora.
Nearly 75 people attended the discussion where panelists addressed the strengths within the nonprofit sector and collaborative efforts between nonprofit organizations.
Congresswoman Haaland said she is a strong advocate to provide benefits to people who contribute to nonprofits. This begins by including nonprofits in discussions for a more inclusive perspective on tax incentives, she said.
“It’s important that in any setting we bring folks to the table who can speak from their own perspective about the issues that are affecting their lives,” Congresswoman Haaland said.
Guest panelists including Terry Brunner, founder of Grow New Mexico, Kira Luna, education manager at the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, Tsiporah Nephesh, the founding director of New Mexico Thrives and Roberta Rael, founder and director of Generation Justice also discussed challenges facing New Mexico nonprofits, such as the lack of funding.
“New Mexico is in a funding desert and it is really challenging,” Rael said. “We just keep figuring out how to stretch the dollar and how to continue build the leadership of young people in New Mexico.” Rael said for nonprofits must collectively find solutions to create change for the community.
Brunner, President Obama’s USDA New Mexico state director for rural development appointee, said nonprofit organizations should take advantage of the federal funding available to aid in their success.
“Federal money is better than it’s been in years,” Brunner said. “The question is, ‘how do we get it?’”
Brunner said the city’s economic development administration is a great resource for nonprofits to mobilize together to get funding. He said organizations such as the Center for Nonprofit Excellence and Grow New Mexico (a program of The Grants Collective) are designed to develop nonprofits and help them overcome funding hurdles.
“We have to do our best to meet what they’re trying to do and change what we do to get the money,” Brunner said.
While federal funding may be available for local nonprofits, Nephesh said one challenge they face is their lack of bandwidth to adequately apply for grant opportunities. Nonprofits are stuck in a nonprofit Hunger Games and it’s difficult to collaborate when you feel like you’re competing for the same grant dollars, she said.
“We as a sector need to figure out another way to come together to be able to apply and access [and manage] that funding,” she said.
In addition to multi-year and general operating funding amongst nonprofits, Luna said active board recruitment within nonprofits and addressing the digital divide are crucial in elevating organizations that provide services within the community. Not having reliable access to the internet impacts organizations’ online fundraising and their ability to advertise their services online, Luna said.
“It’s a huge setback in many ways,” Luna said. “If we think about how we thrive and use the internet to connect with other people…to not even have that opportunity sets nonprofits back.”