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Recession hits Illinois charitable sector hard

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Nonprofits and grantmakers in Illinois are making cuts and shifting strategies to cope with the impact of the recession, a new report says.

The report, based on a survey the Chicago-based Donors Forum conducted in November, says half the nonprofits in the state made cuts in full-time staff last year, 71 percent decreased their budget and 66 percent saw their operating reserves decline.

Among grantmakers, 37 percent plan further decreases in their giving level, 20 percent plan increases, and 42 percent increased their focus on support for nonprofit capacity-building and sustainability, says the report, Economic Outlook 2010: Illinois Nonprofits Still Reeling After Rough Year.

At the same time, 67 percent of nonprofits saw greater demand for services, the same as the year before but up sharply from five years earlier.

And the number of nonprofits that reported a decrease in their ability to meet rising demand grew to 41 percent from 21 percent a year earlier.

Nonprofits also reported declines in funding, particularly from foundations and government.

“Grantmakers are changing funding strategies to bolster nonprofit sustainability and target the most effective programs,” Valerie S. Lies, president and CEO of the Donors Forum, says in a statement. “Nonprofits also are making tough programmatic and strategic choices, while pursuing new and more aggressive fundraising approaches.”

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