The Soapbox and Toolbox for New York State's Nonprofits

February 15, 2018

Broken Promises

Amid the hustling and bustling of the NYS Capitol, a small contingent of nonprofit representatives stood by information tables, hoping to be noticed. It looked a bit like a high school science fair, with cardboard posters and flyers displayed for passersby. Those who stopped to read them found stories of nonprofits across the state sharing all they were able to achieve with just a little bit of support funding. Fixing leaky roofs, repairing faulty heating systems, improving building accessibility, and expanding program centers – in the end, thousands of lives across the state were impacted.

The Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Improvement Program (NICIP) was an initiative by the Cuomo Administration launched in 2015. In the first year, $50 million was dedicated to support the crumbling infrastructure of human service nonprofits across the state – organizations bearing the brunt of cuts to state-funded programs year after year. In January of 2016, 635 nonprofit human services organizations, desperately underfunded to meet the growing needs in their communities, jumped at the chance for additional support. The state did not anticipate the tremendous demand, the need more than double the funding allocated, overloading the NICIP proposal review team. Later that year, a new request for proposal was put out by the Dormitory Authority, with the promise of more funding:

“The Governor and the Legislature appropriated an additional $50 million to the Nonprofit Infrastructure Capital Investment Program for Fiscal Year 2017, doubling the amount of funds available to $100 million.
This was partly in response to the higher than expected number of applications.”

It is now 2018. Only one-third of the funding has been dispersed. Some of the awardees broke ground on projects anticipating funding that still hasn’t arrived. Others have been stuck in limbo, unsure of whether they should apply elsewhere to get the funding they need. The 2019 budget shows no NICIP funding allocated, the initiative quietly defunded.

There is clearly a need for the NICIP initiative to continue – for the rest of the funding promised to be dispersed, and for this year’s budget to include it once more. Human services organizations are taking hits from all sides: shrinking donations, funding cuts at the state and federal level, increased program demand, and higher program costs. Without support from the state, the many thousands of residents impacted by these organizations will be the ones to suffer, our most vulnerable populations.

Nonprofits need to stick together. That is what the Strong Nonprofits for a Better New York campaign is all about. NYCON is a proud member and supporter of the campaign, and as such, we are asking our members to make phone calls and send letters urging the governor and NYS representatives to preserve and support infrastructure funding. Start by taking action here, then please consider signing onto the Strong Nonprofits campaign as a member.

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NYCON develops and promotes an effective and vibrant charitable nonprofit community throughout New York State.  We strengthen organizational capacity, act as an advocate and unifying voice, help to inform philanthropic giving, and conduct research and planning to demonstrate relevance and impact.