Services, charities on the line over the fiscal cliff

Reduction in funding could force closures

 UPDATED 5:45 PM HST Dec 05, 2012
HONOLULU -

"Falling off the fiscal cliff" could have catastrophic results for Hawaii charities.

Right now, the holiday giving season is in full swing. "I see it, I see people give more during the holidays," said Honolulu resident Jackie Wiatrowski.

"This year for the first time in three years, we're starting to see a slight increase," said Aloha United Way Vice President Norm Baker.

The looming fiscal cliff though, casts a dark shadow over the bright, giving season.

"If the fiscal cliff is not resolved, it will impact us significantly," said Baker.

Many Hawaii non-profit organizations get a majority of their funding from the government, so spending cuts in Washington would take a big bite out of their bottom line. Tax increases would also affect how much money people have left to give. Add to that a new state law which limits the amount of individual deductions.

"Basically, it's a perfect storm. All of this has come together, right at the end of 2012, going into the new fiscal year," said Baker.
 
There is worry that if the country goes over the cliff, a number of non-profit organizations barely staying afloat now would have to shut their doors. The reduction in services would cut off a number of at-risk residents from getting much-needed help.

"A lot of services that are important to the community would just go away," said Baker.

One of the problems non-profits face is that when there is a sudden drop in donations, there is usually a sharp increase in the need for services.

That is why, some say, no matter how steep the fiscal cliff drops off, it is important donations continue in 2013.

"We will try to keep it about the same. If we make more, we can give more, but if we don't then we have to watch what we spend," said Waikele resident Marian Asato.

"Everyone is struggling, we realize that, but there are folks struggling more than each of us," added Baker.

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