When the economy tanked in 2008, some of the city's nonprofit attracting agents took a hit in more ways than one.
From 2008 to 2010, the Robert H. Jackson Center saw a decrease in contributions and grants from $610,118 down to $236,509. The Fenton History Center also saw a decrease in those years, from $408,295 to $156,008.
Although the economy has impacted the number of donations and, at time, the traffic flow through area attractors, many, such as the Robert H. Jackson Center, work to maintain the level of programming in place.
Downtown Jamestown Development Corp.
Produces Events Including The Downtown?Cruise-In
"In the way that we operate, we do our best to keep the level of programming that we have. Of course, we're always looking for suggestions and ways to engage the public in different areas," said Debra Pacos, development coordinator for the Robert H. Jackson Center.
One of the ways that nonprofits have worked around the lack of funding is by combining resources to work together for events. Pacos and Joni Blackman, Fenton Historical Society executive director, both agree that nonprofits working together is important.
"If anybody can play with others, it's certainly got to be nonprofits, because lately - probably for the past two, three years - collaboration and partnerships have been the key words in grant writing. Everybody knows there's not enough to go around," Blackman said.
Many nonprofits rely on foundation contributions and donations in order to operate. Dr. Anton Leenders, president and CEO of the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, hopes that when the economy turns around, funding will come back to the organizations.
"Foundation contributions went down, because they didn't have as much to give anymore," Leenders said. "And, it's the same thing for donors. A lot of people are cutting luxury expenses. So, a membership to Roger Tory Peterson is one of the things that probably go, you've got to make choices. We're hoping that as things kind of reshuffle, that those come back."
According to Blackman, membership has remained steady. In 2009, membership accounted for $16,360 of the Fenton's income. In 2010, membership experienced a slight dip to $16,309.
Additionally, Blackman said that the Fenton's annual giving, such as for holidays and other special requests, has also experienced a decrease over the last several years. Between the dip in membership and contributions, Blackman said her staff has experienced a cut in the amount of hours they work.
To make up for the lack of income, many nonprofits have had to get creative in fundraising efforts. However, Blackman acknowledges that people become worn out with fundraising.
"Fundraising is constant," Blackman said. "Fundraising really wears you out, and people get worn out being asked all the time. This is where it's really important that an organization has a focused and dedicated board with a senior staff that really plays well together, uses each other's strengths and builds on each others weaknesses to move the organization forward."
The Downtown Jamestown Development Corporation is unique in that it has seen an increase in memberships when others have not. From 2008 to 2010, it has seen memberships and sponsorships increase from $26,096 to $33,178. According to Lee Harkness, DJDC executive director, this accounts for nearly 11 percent of the organization's funding.
"I think we have a lot of traffic (at DJDC). It talks about everything from support for events, to doing events, to starting a business, to helping business. What we're hearing is that businesses are on the increase," Harkness said.
Additionally, Harkness has found that attendance for DJDC-sponsored events has increased. However, Harkness said he understands the value of nonprofits working together to achieve a common goal.
"I think you have to produce something. You have to show results of what you are doing," Harkness said. "Our mission is to support the city of Jamestown in economic development."
According to Journey Gunderson, executive director for the Lucille Ball Center for Comedy, the economic impact brought in by the center is enormous.
"That money from outside of Chautauqua County very directly impacts the bottom lines of numerous for-profits in Chautauqua County and allows them to pass that income or revenue on to residents of Chautauqua County in the form of salaries and wages as well," Gunderson said.